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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Put CA High Speed Rail to Death

Uploaded: Aug 13, 2010
I think it is too late, unfornately, for a ballot measure to be part of this November's election, but we need ASAP need to put this High Speed Rail in California to sleep.

I don't like the death penalty when it comes to people, for a variety of reasons.

I do like the death penalty when it comes to bad animals and equally bad ideas.

We need to get a fork into CHSRA as soon as we can. I am not sure that there is a State-wide organization that is set up to deal with the detailed advocacies of the CHRSA, such as bogus market research and preliminary above grade design concepts. Even if there is, we need to kill the beast, not the specifics.

I know that leadership in Menlo Park, Atherton, with some back-up from Palo Alto are challenging this thing legally and also trying to work with CHSRA leadership.

It is a waste of time.

Take a Sand Hill Road view of this thing: exciting concept, partial funding from elsewhere (USG), has not provided substantial returns where it has been attmempted previously (Europe,) not clear it will create new markets or replace existing ones, especially road and air travel.

What I think is needed is an organized effort at the State level to get this effort ended before it takes on more money and blather.

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Posted by John, a resident of ,
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:37 pm

"What I think is needed is an organized effort at the State level to get this effort ended "

Be specific, Paul. Are you saying that voting for Meg Whitman is the way to go. Or shall we nominate someone like Mike Cobb to lead a grassroots campaign? Another state proposition to rescind?

The quickest way I can think of is with Whitman, even though I am not such a big fan of her, because she talks out of both sides of her mouth. But she may be the best bet.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Aug 14, 2010 at 4:47 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

We all know where we in Palo Alto thinks the sun rises, but the rest of California may not share that view. HSR is the law! You no like, you can either mount a campaign to get the electorate to reverse itself or, more to your liking, find some compliant judge to yet again flip the people the bird.
Ventura resident, The compensation for the taking will be, as mandated by the Constitution, adequate.

Posted by senior blogger, a resident of ,
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

Where have you been for the last eleven years. That's how long (at least) that the HSR has been having board meetings and studying the Program. You (and the paper's) kind of thinking is the same as San Mateo's was when they nixed a sales tax to extend BART to the peninsula many years ago, thus depriving the rest of the peninsula of reliable, green, inexpensive and forward thinking transportation alternatives to the gas eating modes.

Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of ,
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

"more to your liking, find some compliant judge to yet again flip the people the bird."
Walter is still bitter over the Prop 8 ruling--despite the fact that ballot measures have been overturned in the past on issues on constitutionality. I do not think the HSR vote is a constitutional issue, since it involved a tax matter. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Aug 19, 2010 at 11:05 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I am not a bitter person. I have faith in representative government in the long run and understanding of its weakness in the short run. The Mickey Mouse judiciary that denies standing in appeals as when 187 was dismembered when the Governor defended it to death and as is in the works for 8 must forgive my lack of reverence for their disdain for those who finally empower them. [Forgive that long sentence but the timer on response gives little time for elegant composition.]

Posted by gbd, a resident of ,
on Aug 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm

HSR is a huge waste of money and an environmental disaster......stop it now before any more money is spent.

Posted by Forwrd, a resident of ,
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Hi Paul,
Didn't know you posted about this. What do you think about this instead?
Kill High-Speed Rail in favor of Self-Driving Car Autobahn?
Web Link

I listened to the governor's speech and his comments about high speed rail (HSR), and it occurred to me that maybe HSR isn't the way of the future.

I mean, what are the advantages of HSR? Speed, freedom FROM having to have a car, energy use.

What are the disadvantages? Lack of personal autonomy as one has with a vehicle, perhaps the need to rent a vehicle at either end or use a vehicle to reach a station, enormous cost to operate safely, need to maintain ridership to support operations, energy use (yes, this belongs in both), very expensive to build, requiring a huge amount of lead time, stations, wide right-of-ways required, etc.

I've thought for the last 20 years that we needed a HSR in California, and I think it would have been great if we'd had one. But the future is here, and HSR is not the most advanced or flexible way of transportation for the next 50 years.

This is a serious question: Instead of HSR, why don't we instead build an autobahn for (electric only) driverless cars?

It would give the opportunity for speed, energy savings, freedom FROM having to drive, but without many of the disadvantages of a train. If we took the money for the train and simply invested in the vehicles and rental/charging stations, the government could far better recoup its operating costs in a more flexible scenario. Plus, over time, as people themselves buy cars that can operate driverlessly (and that meet the stringent requirements of such a throughway for safety), it means the populace is basically voluntarily underwriting the renewal of the vehicles. So long as the government maintained a certain number of rentals so that everyone could rent if they wished, it would remain a form of public transportation. The government could also enter into contracts with rental car companies, further reducing the government investment. Plus, once people arrive at their destination, they just switch from autopilot to pilot and drive away (if they wish) or turn the car in and take other public transportation. Or have the car drop them off and find its way back or to another rider who wants to take it!

Plus, building such an autobahn would be more flexible, easier to add to and maintain, among many other advantages. It would not depend on a certain flow of ridership to keep it afloat, and it would very likely require a narrower right-of-way than rail.

And, icing on the cake, California would be leading in the world again instead of playing catch up!

The HSR is so expensive and locks us in for so long. I voted for it, but given the new potential for autonomous, driverless vehicles, I think we should take some time to reflect on whether we should do something much more forward thinking, that gives us the advantages of HSR and few or none of the disadvantages.

And no, I do not work for Google!

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