Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm
Your editorial was mildly almost diffidently written. It's most interesting that the headline and sub-head ("Medicine doesn't offset poison of HSR bill...While Caltrain and the Peninsula come out as winners from high-speed-rail vote, state still can't afford this 'plan'") expressed more of a clear, forthright position than anything in the body of the editorial itself. What's up with that?
I am upset that you let the following claim go unchallenged: "Gordon and Hill enthusiastically supported the bill, saying the Peninsula got virtually everything it wanted and had been fighting for, including no high-speed rail between San Francisco and San Jose." Who said or where is it written that there will be no high-speed rail between SF and SJ? That's not my understanding of what CHSRA has in mind. They are apparently reluctantly willing to run their HSR trains on the CalTrain tracks on the Peninsula. While those trains would be limited to 125 on the Peninsula -- thus, in my mind, making it rational to terminate HSR in SJ, but no, that would be an affront to SF! -- there would still be more trains (CalTrain's + HSR's) under the so-called "blended system," if we must use that pathetic phrase that many politicians have treated as if it were the Holy Grail. So, there would be HSR trains on the Peninsula, they just wouldn't be going at more than 125 mph.
Re Hill and Gordon's three "reasons" for supporting Moonbeam's last minute pork-laden proposal (which the editorial completely ignored), let's look at them:
1. Where exactly is that "guarantee" that CHSRA will stick with a two track system and won't take any property along the CalTrain ROW? Is it on paper, in the legislation, or based on a "gentlemen's agreement"?
2. Re the $600 million for CalTrain, if I read this correctly, it seems unlikely to shorten the trip to SF from PA or MP. Rather the electrified train will be able to travel faster THUS ENABLING IT TO MAKE MORE STOPS TO PICK UP AND LET OFF MORE PASSENGERS, STILL LEAVING THE SF/SJ TRIP AT ABOUT ONE HOUR. While I like and support CalTrain, the only thing good here is that CalTrain will be electrified and probably be put on berms and eliminating crossings. I don't expect that the ride experience will be enhanced.
3. "Rail improvements on the Peninsula that could stand on their own even if the full project is never completed." We're going to pay a hell of a price tag for that "improvement" to CalTrain. I believe that people along the way would have been willing to support a bond issue for electrifying CalTrain; without such a bond issue, electrifying CalTrain was tied to supporting CHSRA's fiasco plan. So CalTrain will get $600 million while the state goes another $6-7 billion in debt -- at a minimum and $200-250 billion for the whole line.
Thanks for the editorial, but next time please don't pussyfoot around in expressing your position.