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Menlo rail NIMBY: HSR not needed; fund urban transit instead

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  • 11/19 Menlo Park Almanac
    Published Wednesday, November 19, 2008, by the Menlo Park Almanac Comment High-speed rail takes dollars from real transit By Martin Engel The Almanac carried
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 19, 2008
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      Published Wednesday, November 19, 2008, by the Menlo Park Almanac


      High-speed rail takes dollars from real transit

      By Martin Engel

      The Almanac carried an editorial about the high-speed train last week
      <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39916>. It points out the
      challenges facing Menlo Park if and when the construction teams take
      over the swath of land around the 8,500 feet of rail corridor that
      bisects our town.

      The editorial also identifies me as an opponent of this project,
      and a critic of the consequences that will befall our city when the
      development process begins. I acknowledge that position and regret
      that my frequent words failed to convince a large enough number of
      voters to see the project for what it really is in the cold light
      of day.

      In the past and in this newspaper I have sought to present a
      position about urban mass transit, its importance and its current
      inadequacy on the Peninsula and in the Bay Area.

      The Almanac carried a powerful and compelling lead article about
      all this in July <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/38997>.
      Not only is the development of such a mass transit system critical
      to the economic well-being of our region, it is where the
      investments, intended for the high-speed train project, should and
      could have been directed. If the high-speed rail is what I oppose,
      urban mass transit is what I support.

      The rail project claims that it will mitigate the environmental
      damage and traffic congestion of the state's highways. That is a
      false claim since a train running between San Francisco and Los
      Angeles won't reduce Bay Area traffic problems, or those in the Los
      Angeles Basin, for that matter. Each population center suffers from
      severe transit difficulties and the billions of dollars earmarked
      for this luxury train would be far better invested in relieving our
      overburdened local highways with a comprehensive urban mass transit

      The point here is to suggest not only how misconceived this
      particular high-speed train project is, but what a genuinely
      productive investment could have been made. It's not about what
      we are against, but what we are for, and aren't going to have.

      It is uninformed thinking to posit one transportation mode against
      another; to suggest that a train, such as this high-speed train,
      is superior to cars or airplanes. They don't do the same job. It's
      apples and oranges. These are different modalities. As any craftsman
      knows, there is a right tool for the right job. Each of these
      "tools" will undergo dramatic technological development over the
      next several decades with the awareness of carbon-based fuel
      problems. There is a critical role for all of them.

      This high-speed rail project has been a solution looking for
      problems. It has discovered so many, including a solution to the
      current economic disaster, that at least a little skepticism
      ought to appear even among the most enthusiastic supporters.
      Although sections of it can be a necessary and useful component of
      regional mass transit in both population centers, in its current
      configuration it is outrageously expensive and unnecessary between
      those population centers.

      We are about to start building the wrong solution to our state's
      transportation problems, and for the wrong reasons, at that. By the
      same token, we are not building what we ought or where we ought; a
      networked, multi-modal regional transit system, with highly
      distributed connectivity. And, that's a shame.

      Martin Engel lives on Stone Pine Lane in Menlo Park and has written
      frequently in opposition to the California high-speed rail bond
      measure, which voters passed on Nov. 4.

      [BATN: See also:

      Comment: Kill HSR to prevent more trains running by my condo

      Letter: Anti-rail Menlo Park NIMBY on why rail is "obsolete"

      Letters: Readers (Engel) have much to criticize about proposed CA HSR

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

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

      Comment: Competitive Caltrain wrong to keep evil BART back

      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

      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"
      http://ccin.menlopark.org:81/0415.html ]
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