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Archive for the 'high-speed rail' Category

security comes down to earth

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While it doesn’t seem to excite much passion around these parts, I’ve been particularly interested in transportation security, especially after spending a good deal of time in the Holy Land back when a bus would blow up just about every other month.

While Israel doesn’t have a railroad system, it does have a line running north and south linking its coastal cities. When I was there, you couldn’t board a train without going having your bags checked and your body wanded with a metal detector.

Thus, when I saw a video put out by the California High Speed Rail Authority touting the $40 billion system’s advantages, I was a little confused. One of them, we are told, is that you won’t have to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
Under: Amtrak, Buses, high-speed rail, Security, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

bullet trains for everybody!

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Having been inordinately busy of late, I’ve let moss grow on the blog. You may be forgiven for moving on with your lives.

But if you’re reading these words, you had faith and came back and I thank you.

It’s kinda like high-speed rail. You gotta have faith.

Either that, or a stop in your Central Valley burg.

I can blog about this because I frankly wasn’t paying attention when it came up before the High-Speed Rail Authority board as they met in Sacramento yesterday. I was there to learn about further maneuvering by Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2008
Under: Funding, high-speed rail, rail | 3 Comments »

higher-speed trains? what a crock!

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Today was a big day for high-speed rail in the Bay Area, what with representatives of Japan’s nearly half-century-old Shinkansen network in San Francisco to talk about how they made it all work.

“It was excellent,” said Judge Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board. “Those Japanese go all out. That was well-done.”

The presentation went all the way back to the early 1960s, when the system started and opened in time for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Now the system has over 1,500 miles operating.

It’s enough to make California HSR supporters misty-eyed.

While we were on the subject, I asked the judge if he’d seen Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
Under: high-speed rail | 4 Comments »

railing against the darkness in Sacramento

wet-capitol-light-rail.jpgOnce again, I feel compelled to share my mis- fortunes at the expense of revealing my stupidity. I have to believe that there are others who regularly miss buses and have to drive an extra 15 miles to retrieve a forgotten mobile phone.

Perhaps it was my punishment for doubting that high-speed rail would ever be built in my lifetime. Perhaps it was what I deserve for not believing that people will all switch to public transit if only it were more convenient.

Or perhaps it was ignoring the sign in front of the Sacramento parking garage that said it closed at 7 p.m.

So I was in a hurry to get to the High-Speed Rail Authority board meeting where the board decided not to decide, thus deciding on a South Bay route for high-speed rail, which will improve the lives of millions of Californians and will be coming Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Under: AC Transit, Amtrak, BART, Bicycling, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Fare systems, high-speed rail, light rail, parking, rail, taxicabs, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

it’s ok. Oakland’s got enough bullets.


In the end, while every other major population center in the state is to be served by the mythical beast known as high-speed rail, Oakland is stuck with actual rail.

And it’s all Jerry Brown’s fault.

Yes, it was our newly minted attorney general who gave the California High-Speed Rail Authority the legal opinion that they didn’t need to actually vote to deep-six the idea of running their 200 mph (recently downgraded by 20 mph) trains past Tracy, Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton and those other communities that suffer from a gross lack of transportation alternatives.

It’s not really Jerry Brown, or even the attorney on his staff who actually figured out the legal niceties that dictated the HSRA board’s lack of action. This decade-in-the-making battle was over three years ago, when the board made its initial decision to go with the Pacheco Pass.

It was the East Bay against San Francisco and San Jose, and that’s a tough battle to win. But since then, it’s become clear that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Caltrain, connectivity, Environment, Funding, high-speed rail, Planning | 2 Comments »

riding on the Marrakesh Express?

morocco-hsr-pacheco-option.JPGI recently discovered that we progressive Californians are on a race into the future of high-speed rail travel.

Versus North Africa.

Yes, the tech-savvy  nation of Morocco is planning to build its own high-speed rail line connecting Casablanca with Tangier:

 ”The project cost is estimated at 20 billion dirhams and will cut the journey between the two cities to two hours and 10 minutes instead of five hours and 45 minutes currently,” (Transport Minister) Karim Ghellab told reporters.

The high-speed train line would carry 8 million passengers a year after it starts in 2013, he added.

That time difference almost sounds like the Bay Area to L.A., car vs. our own HSR (which does not, I’m told, stand for “highly suspect ridership”).

But think of it! Only 20 billion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), Funding, high-speed rail, rail | 2 Comments »

shot in the arm for bullet train thru Altamont

bullet-train.jpg Just when it seemed the establishment was solidly behind the Pacheco Pass through largely undeveloped parts of Santa Clara County, along comes our new member of Congress to once again buck the conventional wisdom.

Now it’s not a major departure for one who represents long-suffering Tracy commuters who must slog daily down I-580 or endure the twists, turns and delays of the ACE commuter choo-choo.

But then Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is not your average Congressman. He defied the Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, November 8th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Buses, driving, Freeways, high-speed rail, Planning, rail | 11 Comments »

hopeless? try the Middle East

palestine-high-speed-rail-plan.jpgGetting up early this morning to attend a Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting and opposing press conference about California’s high-speed rail enterprise (like the space ship), my brain nearly dripped out of my ears by the time it was over.

I had lost all context. I was starting to believe that someday, high-speed rail would actually get built and I should care if it did or it didn’t.

Struggling to fire a synapse long enough to put something on this blog, I found myself Googling aimlessly and suddenly, a light bulb ignited.

My previous brush with the concept of high-speed rail was in a concrete tunnel of sorts.

I was leaving the Gaza Strip, oddly enough, when I chanced to meet Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, Amtrak, BART, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, fuel, high-speed rail, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

Tracy to Livermore in five minutes

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What if high-speed rail went through the Altamont Pass a teeny bit, and then stopped?

Sounds silly at first blush, but you have to bear with me here.

I heard about this at Wednesday’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting, when a speaker critical of the area’s first comprehensive regional rail plan noted that Scott Haggerty, an Alameda County Supervisor who represents the county on the commission, had his own high-speed rail plan.

One could say, and one would be very sensible to do so, that the time for proposing new bullet train routes has passed. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is in the throes of an environmental impact process pitting the 100-percent Altamont Pass option against the Pacheco Pass options. The routes have been debated for years, the authority is getting a fifth of what it asked for in the state budget and a lack of resolve at this point might be akin to being the lame wildebeest as the lions are closing in.

But sometimes a wildebeest has to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Under: Altamont Commuter Express, BART, connectivity, driving, high-speed rail, parking, rail, Transit vs. driving | 24 Comments »

end of the maze craze

maze-ironworkers-photo-3-by-thinh-vo.jpgIt was 5:50 p.m. when I got the call from my source, whom I’ll identify only as General “I shall return” MacArthur.

“Unofficially — not for publication — I recommend that you be at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza no later than 7:45.”

With a new sense of urgency, something not engendered by mere deadlines and editors hoping beyond hope to spend time with their families,  I finished my story about how, after a gasoline tanker conflagration April 29 claimed

Photo of Christie Constructors ironworkers by Thinh Vo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, high-speed rail, Safety, tolls | 1 Comment »