The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a spending bill that kills high-speed rail funding for fiscal year 2012. What will the vote mean for California’s proposed bullet train?

Dan Richard, board member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority
Jerry Hill, California assemblymember (D) representing the 19th District
Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design
Cathleen Galgiani, California assemblymember (D) representing the 17th District and author of Prop. 1A, the California high-speed rail bond measure which passed in 2008

  • Sweet_camu_camu

    Only in CA, a fight to NOT to get into the XXI century!!! jobs, better transportation, less pollution; but not the fat cats in the peninsula don’t want the project because it will ruin “the view”. Yes it will cost but look at China building a speed train every other week, and here republican house members declaring to the press that they are proud of killing the speed train initiatives in congress!!!!!

    • “Yes it will cost but look at China building a speed train every other week”

      Maybe we should do like China and bulldoze over the houses of everyone in the way showing no concern for individual rights. And if they protest, let’s just throw them in jail. Sure, we’ll have lost our rights, but at least we’ll build a high-speed rail.

      • wda

        You must live in Atherton.

        Talk to the Republican Supreme Court who has said it perfectly OK to bulldoze old houses for the sake of a developer trying to build a business park and a subdivision.

      • Jake

        Tell that to the home owners of the Fillmore in San Francisco in the 50’s, mostly African American when the “Victorian houses” were a blight, horrible, unhealthy…and after the houses were demolished the vacant lots were empty for almost 40 years….and by the way San Francisco is in California that is part of the USA….

        • wda

          The re-development of the Filmore is not a good example to use when talking about CA high speed rail.  That’s a local problem that should be blamed upon greedy San Franciscans who are probably all dead.

          • Jake

            Funny….”re-development” of blighted areas, right? the example is good, because there is people using the excuse of not building a train for public use: because we as good law abiding americans should not destroy farms, beautiful views, peninsula rich areas, etc etc et but we are very happy destroying areas like the Fillmore 50 years ago, and currently in other communities all over this country. Have you been in the Fillmore lately? because if you visit you would be able to see that “there are not” s single greedy San Franciscan alive there, right?

          • It does seem like the state is planning on bringing in plenty of private investors for this. So it does sound like we are talking about using force to give other people’s property to private investors.

          • Strandwolf

            Coincidentally(?) we have Quentin Kopp shilling for high speed. Ponder that….

        • Are there really so many people who believe high-speed rail is more important than individual liberty that you did not see the sarcasm in my post?

          • Jake


  • Greg Hamilton

    My wife and I are talking Amtrak to Southern California this thanksgiving in a show of support for the viability of rail travel in this state. The journey will take us over 10 hours, but we are committed to high speed rail and want to vote with our dollars and with our travel method. It’s time California has a 21st century transportation system that will also be a massive boon to the economy.

    • Granger103

      That’s a nice thought.  But it won’t happen so long as California’s drivers pay a bargain basement cost for their driving.  Europeans pay 7 times as much as Californians do in gas taxes at the pump.  And thats before factoring in the highway use fees that Europeans also pay.

    • PennyK

      I word of caution.  My son took the train from Salem, OR to SF about 8 years ago.  It took 20 hours due to freight right of way issues.

  • Kt

    We need high speed rail! It’s embarrassing in this day and age that California is still worshiping the almighty rubber-wheeled auto. Disconnect from the oil barrel and embrace public transit. 

    • Granger103

      California motorists are hearvily subsidized by other tax payers.  In fact European drivers pay 7 times as much in gasoline taxes as California drivers do…and that before factoring in the highway use fees that European and Japanese roadway users also pay. 

      This huge subsidy lavished upon driving…the competing mode of travel…makes it almost impossible for a California high-speed system to come anywhere close to breaking even.  Despite this huge handicap action must be taken to improve the non-automotive means of getting around.  The congestion problems are worse in the metropolitan areas than elsewhere…so that’s where the improvments should occur. 

      Forget the fantasy line from LA to SF.  California can’t afford to waste that much money.

    • Strandwolf

      This is “car culture”. Californians want their privacy and convenience. With electric cars the oil barrel complaint disappears.

  • Alan Saldich

    I looked up how many flights per day betw 3 Bay Area airports and 5 LA airports and there are 400/day each way. And that does not include Sacramento. Just wondering why that traffic isn’t highlighted more to support ridership estimates.

  • Mr. Richard is telling us that within a very high margin of errors, they will break-even or even make a profit. If that is the case, why do we need government funds and why is the private sector not just raining money on this? Investors are not in the habit of ignoring profit opportunities with such low risk as this. The fact that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is not able to get all that money from the private sector tells me that maybe their business plan is overly optimistic.

  • Angelgroove

    The issue, tried by
    the CASHRA, with spending with abandon was to be a secret argument. But it was
    not, it was noticed by grass roots people like myself that saw this as wild
    abandon of planners motivations to mow down their perceptions of urban blight. This
    had nothing to do with interconnection of San Francisco to Anaheim as it was an
    exercise by corrupt planners to push their pet projects of urban blight. Just
    look at the cities affected. The homeowners along the Bay Area’s CalTrain
    corridor, farmers and ranchers in Hanford, 700 plus homes in Bakersfield.
    Mumbai India blasts their trains through cities. Paris places their stations
    outlying the cities. We did not need to ask for Mumbai design and want the six
    billion back. What a waste, this could have been spectacular had the CAHSRA
    listened to train experts. Instead they listened to planners who viewed this as
    an open paycheck to mow down homes and farms.

    • SVEngineer

      ” Paris places their stations outlying the cities.”

      Not really!   The high-speed train stations in all European cities (Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Milan, etc) are all at the cities’ centers.    Five years ago, I took a high-speed train from Paris to Marseilles in the South of France and it took me 3 hours — a distance of 400 miles plus.    When I came home, it took me 4.5 hours to get from San Francisco airport to my house in San Jose using public transportation — a distance of 40 miles.    The public transportation system in the U.S. is a national disgrace.

      • Granger103

        As you say, public transportation in this country is a national disgrace, and it’s because American motorists are heavily subsidized by other tax payers.  According to the API (look it up) Californians pay $0.67 a gallon in gasoline taxes.  Europeans pay seven times that much, and that’s without counting the substantial highway use fees that most European and Japanese roadway users also pay.

        Even with this huge American handicap, things can be done in California to ease congestion in the metropolitan areas.  But not if we put all of our limited supply of eggs into one, ill-conceived high-speed rail basket.   

  • Jgravanis

    advocates for high speed rail need to explain how this project can make money when other rail systems require subsides

    • Evan Neumann

      The nations roads all all subsidized 100% by taxpayers. 

      It is hypocritical to criticize rail for minor subsidies. If the State wants to build and maintain the rails and control it’s traffic for no charge (as they do for the roads) every train service in the US would be profitable immediately.

  • Martha

    Heartily Agree we need high speed rail in CA and throughout U.S.  Concerned about the proposed general location of initial segment, esp. if longer term funding may be in doubt.  

    • Granger103

      We need effective passenger rail service in the metropolitan areas much more than we need a grandiose, money-losing high speed line from LA to SF.

  • Charleston Chu

    We don’t even have BART, in the South Bay, yet! 

    I think that regional public transportation ought to be the priority, if THAT much money is going to be spent, on infrastructure. 

    We need public transportation, to get across town, not to get across the State.

    • wda

      You don’t have Bart in the South Bay because you never voted to pay for it and much like like now the Palo Alto folks don’t want public transportation going through their neighberhoods.

      • Strandwolf

        I wouldn’t mind more buses but there isn’t enough ridership to even begin to break even. I’d say that each passenger on a bus is subsidized to the tune of $50 per ride. “Facts and figures” be damned–the high speed train scheme will bleed red ink in buckets.

  • I don’t get it

    ummmmm … isn’t the reason we could build the 19th century RR system, the Erie canal, etc., because they were paid for by investors, the 1 percent of the 1800’s?  How much did the government contribute?  My concern is that the biggest transit problems are local, not SoCal to NorCal, right? Let’s fix that first.

  • RSD

    I would encourage developers to more seriously consider alternatives.
    For example, we already have the existing highway infrastructure that is devoted mainly to trucks and cars. With the amount of funding that is at stake, has serious consideration been given to heavily subsidized buses to make public transportation very inexpensive to users and very attractive as an alternative to private automobiles? Enabling low-cost public transportation is likely to be the primary driver for increased use.

    • Granger103

      Motorists and particularly truckers are heavily subsidized by other tax payers.  (In Europe roadway users pay 7 times as much in per gallon gasoline taxes as Californians do…and thats before factoring in the highway use fees that most European and Japanese drivers also pay)

      The more non-automotive travel and freight rail movement is encouraged, the less the highways will be clogged with cars and trucks.  Putting all the rail infrastructure money into a single grandiose high-speed rail line is NOT the way to go.

  • DL

    I’m curious as to who funds the Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design? 

    • Granger103

      More to the point would be who stands to benefit from the high speed rail line.

  • Steve Hanson

    We are gradually becoming a third world county as far as our infrastructure is concerned.  We need to invest in the correct infrastructure not another highway 5. our 19th century rail technology is still more efficient than trucking!   I have been in Asia and seen modern infrastructure – clean and working – If you talk about local transit, our communities are not set up for efficient public transit we need to re-plan our Cities for Transit Oriented Development.  Those people who do not want to invest in our future infrastructure that does not rely on global warming technologies have their head in the sand!

    • Granger103

      It not a question of investing in the future, it’s how you invest.  There are much better ways of attracting people out of their cars and airplanes than putting all the eggs in the high speed basket.

    • utera

      Well high speed rail isn’t the answer, local  transit is not well developed enough to make it viable, and it just doesn’t work with the way californians actually live.  Things like education need the money far more than such fantasy projects, money has to come from some where, and we are broke.

  • Angelgroove

    We need to KILL hi speed rail until a rational design is presented. I will fight this until the ends of the earth. I have standing and I will push it. You may view me as a dictator, but it is voices like mine, along with the Cities of Palo Alto, Atherton, Menlo Park, Hanford, Bakersfield that all say no way.

    • wda

      And why are the cities of Palo Alto, Atherton and Menlo Park so attuned to this issue?  And what is their main concern?  Is it fiscal or is it Nimby?

      • Angelgroove

        They are attuned to this because this is an exercise in eminent domain, not building a feasible system.

        • wda

          Eminent Domain?  Really?  I’ve never heard of eminent domain being discussed to build the penninsula corridor.

          That just sounds like hyperbolic language designed to inflame and distort the issue.

          • What is their plan for obtaining the land then? One of the callers was talking about how she has friends who are complaining about their fields being traversed by the train. If there is no eminent domain use, it is really simple. They can simply refuse to sell their field right? 

          • wda

            Employing the defense of “eminent domain” to preserve farm fields is simply ridiculous.

            I can see how it becomes a touchy issue when you are taking homes, but farm fields in Bakersfield or the central valley.

            I smell a canard.

          • Are you claiming the California high-speed rail authority will not use eminent domain? Or are you saying that you don’t care about people’s property rights in their farm fields?

          • Strandwolf

            I live along the proposed Dumbarton Bridge track and it looks like some property would have to be seized. The bridge itself would cost a fortune, even compared to the millions per mile of standard track. Get the cost WAY down and I’ll go along somewhat cheerfully.

        • Jake

          Eminent domain? how do you think they built the hwy system? eminent domain is only good when……you fill the blank

      • Granger103

        There is one excellent  way of responding to the legitimate complaints of people in Palo Alto, Atherton and Menlo Park.
        And that is to reroute high-speed rail from its currently anointed Los Banos, Gilroy, San Jose, San Francisco route to the Altamont Alternative extending from the Stockton area via Livermore, Fremont, a new Dumbarton rail bridge and  Redwood City to San Francisco and via the East Side of the Bay to San Jose.  The people of the Southern Peninsula and Santa Clara County would continue to be well served by Caltrain.  The Altamont Alternative would provide an excellent new service that would tend to ease congestion pressures on I-580, I-680, I 238, I-237 and Hwy 92, as well as on BART’s transbay section.

  • Ron from Pleasanton

    Many of us don’t support this kind of project because it creates yet another California buracracy with outrageous union benefits and retirement plans that us taxe payers can’t afford. Until we fix the.california union employee unfair benefits problem that is unsustainable we won’t be able to afford such a project. Fix calpers and we might be able to pull it off.

  • Charleston Chu

    Unless the HSR fare is less than half of airfare, it won’t be cost-competetive…people will still pay extra, to save time.

    • Evan Neumann

      You haven’t travelled by train enough if you think airplanes are faster.

      How long does it take to get from downtown SF to the airport, through ticketing and security and then fly, disembark, collect luggage and arrange transportation to downtown LA. 

      Compare that with taking a taxi 5 minutes to the train station, boarding immediately and disembarking a few hours later in LA another 5 minute ride from your destination.

  • Charleston Chu

    I will be near retirement, by the time this is complete…will seniors get a discount fare?

  • Angelgroove

    Cathleen Galgiani is a crook. Board Member Diridon admitted the ballot
    materials from 11/08 were a “marketing scheme”. One Democrat that needs to find another job.

  • Everyone is telling us this will create many jobs. But it is important to look carefully as to what those jobs will be. What guarantee is there that this will hire people who are currently unemployed? As I understand it, this is not the kind of project which can hire just anyone. You need people with a certain skill set. Is there a study that tries to compare the skills of unemployed individuals with the skills of people who will be hired for this project?

  • Angelgroove

    We are getting BART in the South Bay it is funded. In fact it is the BART connection to the San Jose station that is keeping the ability of the HSR of ever reaching the station.

    • wda

      And how long did it take for you folks to get on board?  Bart has been in existence for 40 years yet you are just now figuring out that a rapid train system is efficient?  Sorry.  We don’t have the time or patience for people on the penninsula to catch up to speed with reality.

  • F_SF

    Take cars of the street – that should be the main goal right now!
    Where does most of the traffic come from? Commuters (like me). Let’s built a good transport system in densly populated area (LA, OC, SF) with low tact time (like every 10min in rush hour times) and electrification with good connection with local transport. High Speed Rail is an overkill and will NOT take a lot of car off the street!

  • Try other options, please

    Don’t encourage Mega-cities! They are spreading out and eating up our fertile farmland.. that feeds us! That is a big mistake.  Sorry, guys.
    Such a train benefits some people, but not most.

    • wda

      Get real.  There is no lack of land for farming in California.

  • Angelgroove

    Time is money you will always have cars. The question is whether they are electric or not. Economic theory holds choice is the operational element of a fiscally strong economy.

  • Hikerstuff

    Projections and forcasts are only educated and uneducated guesses. Sometimes good guesses, sometimes not. One cannot possibly take any action if all choices are based on this process. The West coast must get high speed rail onboard…. now… As it is the Congress is diverting funds to existing corredors on the East Coast. Everyone takes the train on the east coast… yet the west… continues to quibble amongst it’self… into total inaction.
    Let’s get going!  

    • Granger103

      First there needs to be a sound, well-conceived plan…..realistically phased to match available funding, and free of the political sweetners added to placate assorted influential politicians and political cabals.  This we do not have…not even close!!!

  • Carrie

    Did Dave Iverson really say that “rail doesn’t
    work in the US”? That is irresponsible. All types of rail are working in
    U.S. on a daily basis, but as one of the last callers pointed out: more people
    don’t take it now because there aren’t many options to take it. In the Bay
    Area, Muni and BART are packed every day; I got on BART at Montgomery last
    night at 11pm and didn’t get a seat until after 12th street in
    Oakland. It can be difficult to get tickets on the Amtrak between Fresno and
    Richmond. Chicago, IL to Detroit, MI Amtrak is sold out on certain days every
    week. So is Chicago, IL to Southern, IL. I was on Metro in D.C. on Wednesday at
    4pm, and it was standing room only between downtown D.C. until 2 stops before
    the end of the Orange line to Vienna, VA. Reporters that claim that rail does
    not work in the US are propagating a Conservative ideology that is pro single
    occupant auto and highways and just isn’t true.

    • Granger103

      According to the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, by 2135 only 6.&% of Bay Area trips will be made by public transit.  Given that the region’s population is projected to grow by about a third during that  time frame, this spells disaster in terms of future congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Jake

    It seems that Dave does not like the train either, he just sounded a little bit sided with the people that don’t like the future. Californians want their cars, californians like their beautiful view, californians want comfort bigger seats in their trains (bart), califonians with money or that are not part of a minority group are very conservatives and don’t want these kind of projects in their beautiful communities, so it will be very difficult to look like and develop country again

  • MP

    We neither need nor can afford high speed rail. Even in Europe and Japan, where high speed rail already exists, it loses money and ridership is declining in favor of cars and planes. Show me anywhere in the world that high speed rail is paying for itself, as the California High Speed Rail Authority would like us to believe, and I might be more supportive. Prove to me that people will abandon their cars and ride the train. Gas is much more expensive in Europe, and people ride high speed rail at a rate of about 100 miles per year, and drive over 7000 miles per year.I’m not buying CAHSRA arguments.

    • SVEngineer

      Where do you get the propaganda from?   Since high-speed trains were introduced in France, people there were dumping cars and planes in drove in favor of high-speed train (I used to live there so I know).     Why take a plane where you have to get to a distant airport, wait in line for 2 hours, get molested, and then repeat the whole thing over when you get to your destination when you can go high-speed train from city center to city center in less time, cost less, and much less hassle?

      • utera

        they dump cars because their governments make them financially unviable for a large section of their population, massive taxation, its an artificial situation…and can’t continue, japan is going to lose tens of millions in population in the coming decades…and their debt continues to reach ever more ridiculous levels, more debt…less get the picture, their high speed train is going no where soon.

  • Michael Jefferson

    The “connected” behavior shift will make this rail option the only way to go for business as long as the experience is designed that way.  Ask the auto industry, the connected generation is not in love with driving, it’s down time from being connected. Also, why are we talking about passenger tickets for a train ride, narrow. Why not sell, lease train cars to rental car companies, airlines too with connecting flights.  Let them figure out models that treat customer/passenger in a broader way? Maybe Avis would offer EV’s that you drive off at your arrival city and return with for your trip home.

    Let’s put the metal on the ground and invite business and end-to-end service designers in to change the whole model of transport.

  • Granger103

    First, it should be noted that once again KQED Radio has sponsored a lopsided Forum slanted to favor the proponents.  Elizabeth Alexis did an excellent job of making the case against high-speed rail, but why three prominent State officials promoting the project arrayed against one individual attempting to point out its fatally flawed financial plan?

    Proponents are fond of throwing up the European high-speed systems as a model for the California system.  Europeans pay seven times as much in gasoline taxes as Californians do (and that not even counting the highway use fees)   The Japanese pay even more for their driving.  Under the circumstances it is patently absurd to be projecting financial success for California’s system based upon the European and Japanese experiences? 

    • utera

      plus they are broke, japan is severely broke, google up kyle bass on youtube and hear him explain their predicament, they are not models to follow.

  • Strandwolf

    Nothing but a horrendous boondoggle perpetrated by real estate speculators. Shades of “The Octopus”,  a novel by Frank Norris. A cheaper “solution” would be to have big, quiet, fuel-efficient planes gliding up and down the state–just as a comparison; I don’t recommend such a scheme necessarily, but things will probably evolve that way.

  • Emily Rathle

    I’d like to know how long would a total commute time for a trip from SF Bay Area to LA be for the proposed system. For example, how long it would be to take a train from the bay area to the nearest propose high speed rail stop. How much is the time saving compare to driving and compare to flying.? 

  • Muthaiga

    Wonder what a HSR system in CA could look like if it weren’t being designed by politics and land barrons?  Take a look at this common sense proposal which would be much cheaper and more likely to succesful:
    You have to ask yourself why Jerry Brown isn’t considering proposals like this if he is serious about building a world class system?

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