California High-Speed Rail Map
As noted yesterday, California’s high-speed rail program has been stimulated to the tune of $2.25 billion, or $2.344 billion if you include funding for the Las Vegas long-term vision.
But more importantly (at least for the home team crowd), according to the San Francisco Examiner $400 million of that $2.25 billion has been earmarked “for construction of an underground train station at the Transbay Transit Center.”
With the funds, the first phase of San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center (retail, bus, and park) is currently scheduled to open in late 2015 with the underground train station component (Caltrain and high-speed rail) following in 2016.
Transbay Transit Center Cross Section
Phase I of the California High-Speed rail plan “calls for a 520-mile system connecting Anaheim and Los Angeles through the Central Valley to San Francisco by 2020.”
Now about that Beale Street station alternative tomfoolery…
And San Francisco’s Transbay Joint Powers Authority Rolls…A Seven! [SocketSite]
High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program: California [whitehouse.gov]
Transbay Terminal: Banking On Stimulus Funds And Opening In 2015 [SocketSite]
Scoop: Transbay Interactive Map (And New Transit Center Website) [SocketSite]
High Speed Rail Scoop: Build On Beale, Demolish The Watermark [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by JJ

    Great news. I can’t wait to see how all this turns out in 5-10 years.

  2. Posted by tipster

    My understanding is that the whole system will take $42B. With cost “overruns” (translation: purposeful initial underestimation of the costs so that funding gets started), I would expect the number to double to $84B.
    This is $2.25B out of $84B. The state is bankrupt. The federal deficits are already out of control. The source of the other 95% of funding looks questionable, at least to me.
    Does anyone really think this means anything will get built before 2040?
    And a link to Las Vegas? Will the state really spend billions more dollars to fund a link to allow state residents to spend money in a different state, when it could benefit far more by simply allowing gambling in a single city right outside of LA?

  3. Posted by Gil

    “My understanding is that the whole system will take $42B. With cost “overruns” (translation: purposeful initial underestimation of the costs so that funding gets started), I would expect the number to double to $84B.
    This is $2.25B out of $84B. The state is bankrupt. The federal deficits are already out of control. The source of the other 95% of funding looks questionable, at least to me.
    Does anyone really think this means anything will get built before 2040?”
    This is a scam. The state bond rating is dropping, there is talk of a constitutional convention to solve the Californi budget crisis. We don’t have the money for this. How about spending what we do have on repairing California’s highway system and roads.
    The line to Las Vegas is pure Reid/government pork.
    The good thing is that the shadow ordinance on the ballot this June will, if passed, kill this project. And the TI project.
    San Franciscans are sick of the density being foisted on them. The developers and city government want it for the profits/money it will garner them. SF residents be damned.
    The Park Merced expansion is opposed by a large segment of the folks living out there but again the city and developers are forcing this on them.
    The shadow ordinance will stop the Park Merced expansion too.
    This is Mass. all over again. The folks revolted there last week and overthrew the “Kennedy seat”.
    Hopefully SF voters will revolt in June and put a stop to all this.

  4. Posted by JJ

    Keep the development and density coming! The higher we go the better off this city will be in 20-50 years. I’m not talking about developing high rises in the neighborhoods but why wouldn’t we want to build them downtown?
    Keep them coming!

  5. Posted by douches only

    Is it true that if the 1000 foot tower is not allowed to be built then the terminal will not be built either? I thought that was the agreement between Hines and the city for them to finance the terminal with the tower. Shadow ordinance could pose very big problems for the Transbay Terminal?

  6. Posted by Joshua Santos

    No dot for San Jose on the map?

  7. Posted by Embarcadero

    How about taking every dime from California’s highways system and requiring that it be spent on public transportation, including high-speed rail that connects the major population centers (which does NOT include Las Vegas).
    I would like expressways to be self-funding. I’m tired of subsidizing the lifestyles of car-addicted suburbanites, the sprawl that they spawn and the social destruction that these urban forms bring.
    I’m also tired of hearing that the state is broke when we should be charing tolls on every road, all day, every day.

  8. Posted by anonn

    Can some of the SS numbers crunchers show some credentials so that anyone can believe anything they might or might not say about the misuse of tens of billions? Thanks in advance.

  9. Posted by anon

    Gil, I’m a resident of Park Merced. Do NOT presume to speak for “everyone” when you talk of turning SF into Venice (maintaining low-density, not allowing the city to grow and better itself, etc). Not all of us want to live on a quarter acre and drive everywhere. If you want that (clearly you do), move to one of your favorite cities (Portland, Seattle) or any of the other 99% of the country that’s like that. Some of us like cities and living in dense environments, why try to take that away from us when your kind already has the other 99% of the country?

  10. Posted by anon

    The original fact sheet is here:
    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20091214131634_FactSheetBusinessPlan.pdf
    The chance of getting the balance of fed money needed to complete this project is between slim and none. The chance of getting the necessary local and private funds is none.
    And blame cars all you want, but it is the set-aside from fuel excise taxes that are keeping public transit afloat in this country. The HTF is heading towards insolvency precisely for that reason.
    Any yes, the 1% that is SF can have what it wants. You just can’t have it without taking it from the other 99%.

  11. Posted by 1st Level

    What’s the first underground level? I’d imagine Caltrain but no trains are shown in the rendering. Is Caltrain supposed to share the lowest level with CA HSR?

  12. Posted by anon

    And blame cars all you want, but it is the set-aside from fuel excise taxes that are keeping public transit afloat in this country. The HTF is heading towards insolvency precisely for that reason.
    Property taxes fund local roads and always have. Other state taxes fund freeways and highways and always have.
    The HTF has ONLY ever truly funded interstate highways, and even that hasn’t worked for more than two decades (and no, even if all of the money going towards transit from the HTF was diverted back to roads, it still wouldn’t cover the hole in the fund). The hole in the fund is caused by folks wanting to further subsidize driving by not indexing the gas tax to inflation or raising it when necessary.

  13. Posted by anon

    ^Wrong.
    Since 1983 part of the HTF has been carved out for the Mass Transit Account. And thanks for the admission that HTF money goes to mass (sic) transit.

  14. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Embarcadero is right, the state could easily fund this project by backing off on the current subsidies to the highway system.
    We’re at a crossroads. We can continue to encourage sprawl, driving, and regional flights that increases consumption of dwindling resources. Or we can start building the infrastructure that allow commerce to proceed without being beholden to oil producers.
    Projects like HSR are huge and require long lead times to get up and running. We can’t afford to wait until $20/gallon gas causes us to grind to a halt. HSR is a low risk no brainer. The technology is decades old and has been successfully deployed in many places.

  15. Posted by corntrollio

    “Is Caltrain supposed to share the lowest level with CA HSR?”
    Yes. I believe it’s 4 platforms for HSR and 2 for Caltrain. The first underground level is the mezzanine for HSR/Caltrain, since in the U.S. we don’t believe in integrating the track/platform portion of a rail station into the commercial/ticketing part of the station.
    “The hole in the fund is caused by folks wanting to further subsidize driving by not indexing the gas tax to inflation or raising it when necessary.”
    Very true. The HTF is sort of a joke:
    started at 3 cents in 1956
    raised to 4 cents later in the 50s
    raised to 9 cents in 1983 (8 cents to highway, 1 to transit)
    raised to 14 cents in 1990
    raised to 18.4 cents in 1993
    It’s 24.4 cents for diesel. And a mere 2.86 cents goes to transit nowadays for gas and diesel. Details are here, including for LPG, LNG, M85, and CNG:
    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/gastax.cfm

  16. Posted by anon

    Since 1983 part of the HTF has been carved out for the Mass Transit Account. And thanks for the admission that HTF money goes to mass (sic) transit.
    Um, I never said that that wasn’t the case. I said that the hole was sooooo big that even putting that money back into the HTF would not fill the hole. And you keep neglecting to mention that MOST road funding in the US does not come from the HTF, but from the general funds of both the federal government and the state governments, as well as local governments (collected through sales taxes, property taxes, etc).

  17. Posted by Chris

    Ahhh, finally the US rail system will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th Century… Just a century and a few decades late.
    California Roads and Rail are a joke, and no one seems to have the will to fix it. This place should have the best roads on the planet, but they can’t seem to get past the 1950’s construction techniques. From everything I see, the rail will be a blight too, as everyone seems too scared to put the thing underground where it belongs.
    *sigh* all I really want is my jet-pants, then I can leave the roads and rails behind… :-> How can we expect to have “The Future, Today”, when we can’t even muster up the will to go metric…

  18. Posted by anon

    The theory that “roads pay for themselves” is an old one, but that doesn’t make it true.
    That said, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t build roads. ALL forms of transportation are subsidized, as they should be. Airports, highways, and trains are something that government should subsidize the building and operations of (and all gov’ts do, of course) because they generate enormous amounts of ancillary benefits.
    We would have never developed the economy that we have without enormous train subsidies in the 1800’s, enormous and ongoing highway subsidies, and enormous and ongoing air subsidies. Adding HSR to the mix is about the easiest decision that could ever be made, but as with most things, there are people that don’t want to move into the future and expand our economy (lots of people opposed the Interstate act in the 50’s too).

  19. Posted by NC

    Um, who the heck wants to go to Bakersfield? Can someone please have that line diverted to Vegas? By the time it’s complete, I’ll be at retirement age!

  20. Posted by corntrollio

    We should really make Las Vegas and/or the State of Nevada pay for that line to Vegas because it’s a complete subsidy to the casinos.
    The Victorville to Vegas plan is newer than the prior plan, which was to have it go from Anaheim. I see the argument that LA to Vegas trips cause a lot of traffic congestion on LA freeways, etc., but I don’t see what the benefit to the state of CA is in terms of commerce on this one.

  21. Posted by joh

    People from LA go to Vegas for reasons other than gambling. And “right oustide of LA” is too close to home for that.

  22. Posted by OneEyedMan

    Please note that the Vegas leg says “long-term vision”. Nevada got $0 out of the $8 bil and are not exactly happy about it. This is a good article to get caught up on LV HSR:
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/jan/29/state-feds-point-fingers-nevada-misses-rail-fundin/

  23. Posted by EBGuy

    all I really want is my jet-pants, then I can leave the roads and rails behind…
    The airspace at ~1200m (metric!) is starting to get crowded.

  24. Posted by 510kland

    Yes, the train is expensive, but compared to what? Roads and airports are expensive too. Which is our wisest investment? Oil prices will be much higher in the future, so it would be insane to put all our money into roads and airports. Rail needs to be part of the mix.
    I don’t know how much the rail system will cost in the end, but there is no evidence that it will cost $84 billion. Yes, infrastructure projects sometimes go over budget, but many are completed on budget or even under budget. Just look at Doyle Drive, which is being bid below the original estimates.
    The train goes through Bakersville because that’s where the people are. Check out this map:
    http://travellistics.com/images/California_population_map.png
    HSR isn’t just about getting people from SF to LA. It’s also about getting people from Bakersville to LA, Fresno to SF, etc. Believe it or not, people in the Central Valley actually do travel once in a while! :)

  25. Posted by SocketSite

    From the San Francisco Examiner:

    The U.S. Department of Transportation publicly stated that $400 million of that stimulus allocation will go towards building an underground train station at a planned new Transbay Transit Center.

    The commitment has not yet been made in writing, however, and Newsom said a “question mark” remains over whether it will be provided.

    Once again, now about that Beale Street station tomfoolery

  26. Posted by Vancouver Jones

    Wonderful… can’t wait to ride on it (if I don’t kick the bucket before then).
    I am, however, concerned about the current crop of dummies that populate our state legislature. If we leave them in charge here’s how things will turn out. Some of the trains will be powered by clean coal. Other trains will be nuclear powered. The operation of the train will be contracted out to a corporation which will have a 15-30% overhead (note: see health care system). Advertising will mar the landscape along the entire route. A credit check will be required to ride the train… This will ensure that no one who’s ever had their house foreclosed on gets on the train. It’s a well known fact these people have exercised such poor judgment that they nearly brought down the entire US economy… and lord only knows what they will do to our beloved rail system).
    Hopefully the rail line will drive the final stake in the heart of the sprawl/suburban growth paradigm. It’s much easier to plan/develop elegant, livable, high(er) density neighborhoods around a permanent rail line. The line to vegas is basically a “bridge to nowhere”. It’s a no brainer to run the line down to Phoenix and on into the beautiful Southern states (this will change the social fabric of our country in many positive ways.

  27. Posted by matt

    That white ceiling above the bus way is going to be white for a matter of hours into opening day and then forever grey…

  28. Posted by Chris

    So just a completely apocryphal quote I heard, which did give me pause for thought. Apparently the UK was evaluating a high-speed rail project, but their analysis showed that, environmentally speaking, it was no “greener” than flying. Interesting thought, if thats the case, why not put the 42B into “green aviation” (and better airport connections) instead…

  29. Posted by anon

    ^Um, ok. Any link to this phantom analysis?

  30. Posted by anon

    ^^ sounds like an urban legend to me too

  31. Posted by Chris

    Nope, no link – hence the “apocryphal” disclaimer.

  32. Posted by anon

    Ah, ok. I suppose it can give you “pause for thought” in the same way as someone telling you that grapefruits turn blue when you take them on a plane. It could be true, right?

  33. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Chris is probably talking about This Report which doesn’t exactly say that riding is no greener than flying in most cases. Just in the case of building along this one particular corridor, where rail penetration was already 50%.

  34. Posted by Chris

    Thanks for the link Jim. I figured there was at least some grain of truth in the rumour I heard… and of course, when a study is conducted by a consultancy who’s name start with “booze”, it *must* be true ;^>

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