To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 28, 2014
Bullet train won't meet target travel time, lawmakers told
A panel of outside experts says it's
unlikely for the bullet train to make regularly scheduled trips of two
hours and 40 minutes between Los Angeles and San Francisco, as promised
This image provided by the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows an
artist's conception of a high-speed rail car in California. Experts say
it's unlikely the bullet train will be able to make regularly scheduled
trips of two hours and 40 minutes between L.A. and San Francisco, as
promised to voters.
Regularly scheduled service on California's bullet train system will
not meet anticipated trip times of two hours and 40 minutes between Los
Angeles and San Francisco, and are likely to take nearly a half-hour
longer, a state Senate committee was told Thursday.
The faster trips were
held out to voters in 2008 when they approved $9 billion in borrowing to
help pay for the project. Since then, a series of political compromises
and planning changes designed to keep the $68-billion line moving ahead
have created slower track zones in urban areas.
But Louis Thompson, chairman of the High-Speed Rail Peer Review
Group, a state-sanctioned panel of outside experts, testified that "real
world engineering issues" will cause schedules for regular service to
exceed the target of two hours and 40 minutes. The state might be able
to demonstrate a train that could make the trip that fast, but not on
scheduled service, he told lawmakers. If public demand for the service
supports additional investments, travel times could be improved after
the currently planned system is built, he said.
Critics of the project have
long disputed whether travel times between the Bay Area and Los Angeles
will meet the mark of two hours and 40 minutes. Projected trip times for
the bullet train are a point of contention in a court fight that could
block the state's access to the voter-approved bond funds.
Rail authority officials said after the hearing, held by the Senate
Transportation and Housing Committee, that they would meet the
requirements of state law, but did not specifically say that trains
would operate at the faster travel times. State law requirements may be
open to legal interpretation. Language approved by voters says the
system must be "designed to achieve" trip times of 2 hours and 40
Thompson's assessment came as lawmakers consider a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown
to allocate $250 million in greenhouse gas taxes to the controversial
project next year, and a third of all the revenue from so-called cap and
trade revenue in future years. If all of the greenhouse gas fees were
allotted to the bullet train system, it would leave a shortfall of up to
$16 billion in required construction funds, Thompson said.
Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), the transportation panel chairman,
warned rail officials that they may not have the votes needed to pass
Brown's request. DeSaulnier said he would probably vote against it
Jeff Morales, chief executive of the high-speed rail authority,
downplayed the risks to the program, arguing that the agency's business
plan provides a sound path forward to complete the system. He added that
federal programs could provide future grants and said that the project
has helped create 6,700 jobs.
William Ibbs, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor who has
consulted on high-speed rail projects around the world, predicted that
the program will cost substantially more than the $68-billion estimate.
Paul Dyson, president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California, told
DeSaulnier's committee that the state's plan to start service between
Merced and Palmdale is "completely wrong" and will attract a fraction of
the riders the state expects. Instead, the state should have begun
building the system between Union Station and Bakersfield, which would
bridge an existing gap that separates Los Angeles from the rest of the
state's existing passenger rail network, he said.