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Comment: Caltrain does not need electrification or HSR

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  • 4/29 Palo Alto Post
    Published Thursday, April 29, 2010, by the Palo Alto Daily Post Comment Caltrain claims a reach By Martin Engel Mike Scanlon, CEO of all the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2010
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      Published Thursday, April 29, 2010, by the Palo Alto Daily Post

      Comment

      Caltrain claims a reach

      By Martin Engel

      Mike Scanlon, CEO of all the overlaying/interlocking organizations that occupy the Caltrain offices, acknowledges that some people might be skeptical regarding their claim that electrification will solve (or at least cut in half) their deficit forecasts until way after most of us are dead.

      Skepticism

      Actually, I'm way past skeptical. In this economic climate, most of America's urban and regional transit carriers are flailing around for lack of funding for operations and maintenance. We already know of Caltrain's structural funding/subsidy deficit. Meanwhile, their business is getting worse through their own efforts, as we speak. They are threatening to cut service in half, they say. They have raised ticket fares and may do so again. Well, that's certainly going to make me want to ride this train!

      And electrification with shiny new trains will turn their declining ridership and revenue losses around? Say what? That challenges -- to put it nicely -- logic, credulity and common sense.

      They are losing money on every customer, so they intend to make it up in volume. The fact is that when they show us their numbers, it makes no sense whatsoever. Furthermore, I resent this arbitrary bookkeeping that selectively separates the capital development cost from the operating costs, as if they had no bearing on the total cost picture.

      Questions

      How long will it take to amortize the electrification development investment of $1.5 billion, if it is $1.5 billion? What if it's more, much more? Where is their business model? Where is their detailed explanation of how their billion and a half expenditure on hardware will increase their ridership and revenues? Drawing high-speed rail into the picture makes who's paying for what all the more ambiguous so that it's impossible to clarify and understand. It's a scam. I need to hear more about electrification costs.

      Merger

      And, by the way, is all this talk of going out of business a first step to a California High-Speed Rail Authority-Caltrain merging into one operating entity?

      How will they attract all those commuter customers that they aren't serving now? By increasing San Jose-to-San Francisco haul times by 10 minutes? Give me a break. Or by running more trains after they're electric? If running more trains isn't working now, why will it work in five years?

      Problems to solve

      They have several problems to solve. The first is to obtain a permanent public funding source. The second is, to improve station access at both ends of every rider's trip. The more convenient it is for commuters to get to and from the train stations, the more likely it is for them to become train riders. If Caltrain can't solve these problems, they will remain marginal, as they are now.

      Blathering about getting people out of their cars is insulting. That will happen fast enough when the transit operators, like Caltrain, get their heads out of the sand and their act together.

      Martin Engel is a Menlo Park resident and a leading critic of the high-speed rail project.


      [BATN: See also:

      Caltrain says survival depends on HSR-funded electrification
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/45037

      Why three Menlo Park NIMBYs may be best hope for HSR foes
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44658

      Comment: Menlo Park HSR foe Engel on tunneling past his house (part 2)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44528

      Comment: Menlo Park HSR foe Engel on why tunneling is way to go (part 1)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44519

      Comment: NIMBY Engel wants HSR "rent" to fund tunneling by his condo
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/41922

      Comment: Engel: HSR must be stopped or it will bankrupt us all
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/41900

      Comment: Ex-official from Atherton says financial voodoo can fund HSR tunnel
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/41489

      Menlo rail NIMBY Engel: HSR not needed; fund urban transit instead
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/39997

      Comment: Kill HSR to prevent more trains running by my condo
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37453

      Letter: Anti-rail Menlo Park NIMBY Engel on why rail is "obsolete"
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37298

      Letters: Readers (Engel) have much to criticize about proposed CA HSR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/37254

      Comment: I'll say anything to oppose HSR, trains near my condo
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/36062

      Comment: Trackside Menlo Park NIMBY Engel on "scary" push for HSR
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/35184

      Comment: Competitive Caltrain wrong to keep evil BART back
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/34643

      Fantasy: Fast, easy, door-to-door transit everywhere for everyone
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/34201

      Menlo Park TOD near Caltrain subject of referendum campaign
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/32221

      Menlo Park train NIMBY calls for inexpensive Caltrain fencing
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/30748

      Letter: NIMBY train foe Engel hints Caltrain plot behind fencing gaps
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/30339

      Letter: NIMBY wise-ass Engel proposes "best ideas" for Caltrain
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/24254

      Letter: Menlo Park Caltrain grade separations not needed
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/20573 ]
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