A lawsuit challenging funding for BART’s planned rail extension to the Warm Springs district in Fremont is the latest friction in a long-running dispute about how to expand public transit in the Bay Area.
On one side, some transit rebels say expanding BART is the wrong way to go, and wrong thing to do with sales taxes and toll money.
“Too many people have drunk the BART Kool-Aid and become enamored with its technology,” said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, a non-profit group. Read the rest of this entry »
Of course, if they vote it down there will also be a story, but improbable tale will be on page 1.
But here’s the scoop on high-speed rail, which I found in a British newspaper article today, which describes the crush of passengers trying to get to Paris through the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station in London:
The airline industry has been crushed by the price of kerosene and deserted by passengers fed up with delays. After decades of disappointment, false dawns and virtually bankrupt Channel Tunnels, we have finally arrived at the age of the train and the evidence is in the crowd at St Pancras.
Tomorrow I’m planning to cover what is likely to be the last public hearing on the environmental impact documents for the California High-Speed Rail enterprise, or at least the part that connects the San Joaquin Valley “spine” to its Peninsula extremity.
It should be, but I’ll be careful about saying this because of past history, the last word on the whole Alamont Pass-Pacheco Pass debate, which was largely settled in December in favor of a Pacheco Pass route and a stop in Gilroy.
I’m not even sure why anyone needs to go to this thing, so certain is the outcome. On the other hand, the history of journalism is littered with cautionary tales of assumptions that turned out to be wrong.
I knew as I was leaving the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee hearing yesterday, there was a good chance that I’d missed something important about AB 3034 or that I’d not fully understood the implications of the things I did catch for the story I was about to write.
I like to think that’s not because I’m clueless about the California high-speed rail saga. It’s just that the way legislation often moves in Sacramento, one can be forgiven for Read the rest of this entry »
For those of you patient enough to wonder what’s become of me, I was on vacation last week, digging up my yard and rearranging my house to meet my wife’s exacting domestic standards. As for this week, I blame the elections and their abject lack of transportation issues, unless you count Props 98 and 99 and the importance of eminent domain land takings in the construction of new infrastracture projects.
There isn’t, however, much call for taking land for infrastructure projects. In spite of the $20 billion transportation bond measure (Prop 1B) passed in 2006, this state and nation continue to suffer from a lack of enough freeway lanes, airport runways and other things that could help us get around.
I spotted an interesting AP story today talking about one of the most neglected forms of transportation infrastructure, even though we seem to want it more than ever as we anticipate $7-a-gallon gas:
While the nation’s attention is focused on air travel congestion and the high cost of fuel for highway driving, a crisis is developing under the radar for another form of transportation — Read the rest of this entry »
Because there aren’t many people around who oppose high-speed rail, I’m finding myself cast in the disagreeable position of honorary naysayer for the program. Most people, myself included, think it would do the state some good to have a way to get from north to south on whatever energy source we’ve developed over the next two decades.
But most people also understand that there are limits to all the good things we can buy or build. I’d really benefit (as would the climate) from buying a house in Orinda, and lousy market notwithstanding, I can’t afford it to the point that I’m sure even Countrywide wouldn’t extend me credit for such a dwelling.
No sooner than I heard that inland temperatures were headed for triple digits, I’m sitting on the Capitol Corridor in Emeryville and the train is overrun with rugrats. Moms, dads, boys and girls are feverishly power-walking up and down the aisle looking for six seats together.
Summer’s arriving early, it seems.
One youngster, perhaps 9 or 10, insisted that he choose where to sit: “Car ONE,” he nearly shouted, as he dragged the hand of a thirty-something woman. “Car ONE!”
After riding the train for two years, I should know right away what that means, but I guessed correctly. He wanted to be in the car that had a view of the engine.
I knew this even before I asked a conductor, because this entreaty sparked a powerful memory from my childhood. I remembered riding a train, perhaps more than one, and being captivated by the sight of the locomotive at the front-end of the train. It so happens that this train is being Read the rest of this entry »
Ok, if a black man can be nominated for president, maybe California can build high-speed rail.
It’s starting to look like the wind is behind this thing, what with college students campaigning for it all over the state from now until November, when voters will have to decide whether they like the $10 billion bullet train bond measure or not.
I’m still waiting to see what sort of borrowing plan Sacramento will cook up to get us through the current budget crunch. I get the sense, however, that even that won’t stop the bullet train measure from going before voters.
Tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., students on UC Berkeley’s famous Sproul Plaza will be riding tricycles, jumping on pogo sticks and walking on stilts while wearing “I’d rather be riding high-speed rail” t-shirts.
These students, sold on the idea that the bullet train is public transportation’s answer to the Prius and a major way of fighting global warming, have been pulling off stunts like this up and down the state. While the students’ enthusiasm at first blush might evoke comparisons to Barack Obama’s youthful appeal, I see it a bit differently.
So, while I was blithely blathering Friday about CalPIRG and their campaign to promote California’s high-speed rail plan, the Sacramento Bee
was getting the real scoop on the future of our improbable love affair with 200+ mph bullet trains:
Democratic lawmakers have agreed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s request to include public-private partnerships for a high-speed train that could travel from either San Francisco or Sacramento to Los Angeles in 2 1/2 hours.