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Comment: I'll say anything to oppose HSR, trains near my condo

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  • 9/5 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, September 5, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac Opinion High-speed rail a big, costly mistake By Martin Engel As everyone in California knows
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 10, 2007
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      Published Wednesday, September 5, 2007, by the Menlo Park Almanac


      High-speed rail a big, costly mistake

      By Martin Engel

      As everyone in California knows by now, the new state budget contains
      $20 million for the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) this

      Watch for an aggressive lobbying campaign in anticipation of the
      $10 billion bond issue to be on the ballot in '08. Meanwhile, it
      is almost impossible to find articulate objections to this foolish
      enterprise either in the press or in the urban transit community.

      Just to remind you, the final costs for the LA to San Francisco high-
      speed rail line are now projected to be anywhere from $37 billion
      to "under $50 billion," depending on which article you read. What
      nobody tells us is that these numbers are likely to triple or more
      by the time this monstrosity is completed, as they did in
      Boston's "Big Dig," and the Bay Bridge renovation.

      To keep this discussion as simple as possible, this pork-barrel
      boondoggle is the last thing California needs for the next 50
      years, all the rhetoric about gridlock and ecology to the contrary.

      Well, then what is the most needed thing? California does need
      massive injections of development funds to create intra-city and
      intra-regional, not inter-city, urban mass transit, particularly
      in the LA Basin, including San Diego and points east, as well as
      in the Bay Area, extending east into the most rapidly populating
      areas toward the Central Valley.

      In short, east and west need to be better-connected by transit,
      not north and south. Even on the Peninsula, we need more east-west
      connectivity linking commuters to the north-south rail artery, just
      like an arterial system, all the way out to the capillaries.

      If any high-speed line is to be built, how about starting with a San
      Francisco-Sacramento line in our area and a San Diego-Los Angeles
      line down south. Costs less, is an opportunity to debug a highly
      complex technology, and can build support from all of us in
      California based upon their success or failure.

      If north-south rail needs to meet any real need, it is freight, not
      middle- and leisure-class tourists and professionals inconvenienced
      by crowded planes. Containerized freight rail will get the diesel
      trucks off Interstate 5 and is the most cost-effective mode of land

      Intra-city transit systems cannot, must not, consist exclusively of
      rail just because the rail-o-crats are pushing harder than anybody
      else. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is a good
      example. The MTC is myopic for promoting rail to the exclusion of
      other modalities when they should be pushing for multi-modal
      interconnected networks that include, yes, heavy and light rail, but
      also buses, rapid and otherwise, hybrid-van shuttles and whatever
      other mode is most appropriate with such highly distributed
      populations and places of employment.

      Wait, there's more. It has become apparent that there is a social
      divide in transit. That divide is a barrier to the effective transit
      system that would, most likely, start getting people to choose
      transit rather than their own cars.

      That divide -- to oversimplify it -- puts most "blue collars" with
      incomes under $25,000 per year mostly on buses, while middle class
      and professional types ride trains and avoid buses. Furthermore,
      65 percent of the bus riders have no other means of transportation,
      unlike the train riders. Meanwhile, the VTA is cutting service on
      many of its routes, and buses don't begin to connect with rail
      stations or each other, anywhere near enough, while Caltrain has
      cut station service in San Mateo County.

      Hey, MTC, that's your real job, weaving transit connectivity and
      building a functional system. Get to work.

      Martin Engel lives on Stone Pine Lane in Menlo Park.

      [BATN: See also:

      Comment: Trackside Menlo Park NIMBY on "scary" push for HSR

      Engel endorses rabid anti-Dumbarton Rail NIMBY's blitherings

      Engel on HSR: "pornographic ... male-enhancement fantasy"

      Engel blasts CA High-Speed Rail Authority's "smoke-and-mirrors"

      Engel shares "High Speed Rail humor"

      Engel debunks Caltrain electrification "fact sheet"

      Engel on "Caltrain's misconceptions"

      Engel no fan of faster trains -- and/or grade separations

      Engel on HSR: "biggest pork-barrel project in the history of humans"

      Comment: Competitive Caltrain wrong to keep evil BART back

      Comment: I know what's best in the Caltrain schedule debate

      Fantasy: Fast, easy, door-to-door transit everywhere for everyone

      Menlo Park TOD near Caltrain subject of referendum campaign

      Menlo Park train NIMBY calls for inexpensive Caltrain fencing

      Letter: NIMBY train foe hints Caltrain plot behind fencing gaps

      Letter: NIMBY wise-ass proposes "best ideas" for Caltrain

      Letters: Menlo Park Caltrain grade separations
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/20573 ]
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