Category Archives: Analysis

The Failure of “Me First” Transportation Planning

New BART director Nick Josefowitz has written an excellent article outlining the failures of “me first” transportation planning, using as examples ineffective freeway expansions in Orange County and the extension of the BART Fremont Line to Warm Springs, currently under construction.

See http://www.sfexaminer.com/the-failure-of-me-first-transportation-planning/.

The “Money Quote:”

…BART’s historical pattern of investment is a good example. In the past couple decades, the region has built extension after expensive extension on the edge of the system. This December, the latest of these expensive extensions will open in south Fremont near the Santa Clara county line. This new extension cost $890 million to build, and will cost over $12 million annually to operate.

This extension — and many of BART’s other end-of-line extensions — are the Bay Area version of Orange County’s failed freeway widening program. The new station in south Fremont will funnel more and more riders into an already overloaded BART system, without fundamentally increasing the capacity of the core system to accommodate them. Not only will this increase the crowding for those living in Fremont, but for all BART riders throughout the Bay Area…

A 110 mph Upgrade Example for San Joaquins

See links below to an article and website about proposed upgrades to existing Chicago-Detroit Amtrak corridor service on existing tracks, to 110 mph standards and other improvements, all for less than $3 billion.

As shown by the Chicago-Detroit corridor example, with the addition of a Bakersfield-Los Angeles route via Tejon Pass–34 miles shorter than via Tehachapi–conventional upgraded San Joaquins could travel from Sacramento or the Bay Area to Los Angeles Union Station in ~4 hours, 45 minutes versus ~3 hours for 220 mph non-stop express high speed rail, or 3 hours, 30 minutes+/- for a high speed “all stops local.”

But CAHSRA wants Calfornia taxpayers to spend another $50 to $100 billion on top of the $10-$12 billion+/-  a combined San Joaquin upgrade/Tejon route would cost to save a maximum of 60-90 minutes per trip. While 3.0-3.5 hour travel times are needed to effectively compete with air travel between Sacramento/Bay Area and Southern California, they are not needed to compete with most intercity trips, which are made by automobile.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2014/10/29/high-speed-rail-boost-roundtrips-detroit-chicago/18088995/

http://www.greatlakesrail.org/

TRANSDEF Analysis Critiques HSR Greenhouse Emissions Analysis

TRANSDEF released its analysis on April 23, 2014 of the CHSRA’s Contribution of the High-Speed Rail Program to Reducing California’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels (June 2013). In short, the construction of HSR would generate more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than it would reduce, for at least 2 decades. Because of this, it would be illegal to use cap and trade funds, which are intended to reduce GHGs, to build HSR.

What’s especially surprising about the CHSRA’s report is its overtly deceitful manner of hiding its construction emissions, and its failure to provide comprehensive emissions numbers, despite being tasked by the Legislature with identifying the project’s net GHG benefits. Perhaps not so surprising are the two high-level Administration officials that gave their unqualified endorsements to the report.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has announced a new plan to allocate cap and trade funds to support SB 375 Sustainable Communities. That plan proposes to devote 20% of revenues to HSR. The proposal is troubling above and beyond its inclusion of HSR in the grab bag. It politicizes the use of cap and trade funds, departing from ARB’s strict approach of maximally reducing GHGs with the funds. The proposal would encourage the gaming of the evaluation of project GHG emissions, which could gravely harm the state’s climate change efforts.

Used with permission from TRANSDEF. Original post at TRANSDEF Analysis of HSR Greenhouse Emissions Analysis.