Fast Train on its Way

The Transport Politic blog reports today that California’s High Speed Rail project will get a huge boost from the federal stimulus bill. According to the story, HSR is in line to receive $8 billion, “the largest single expenditure on rail in United States history.”

Phase 1 projects include a line from Los Angeles to San Jose, and then to San Francisco. California voters gave the project a thumbs-up in November when they approved a $9.5 billion bond. The plan requires the kind of significant federal investment promised in today’s news.

Pres. Obama himself made a pitch for HSR projects on Wednesday: “It’s imagining new transportation systems. I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. I would like for us to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient. And I think people are a lot more open now to thinking regionally…

“The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody… recognizes that’s not a smart way to design communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this sort of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation.”

If and when the HSR corridor is completed, trains travelling at speeds up to 220 miles per hour would make the trip from San Jose to LA in under two-and-a-half hours.

13 Comments

  1. And now watch the litigation begin, as every fancy pants peninsula lawyer will sue to stop gentrified downtowns and poor yuppies from having to make way for an HSR right of way.

  2. About time we have the Federal Government on our side when it comes to funding projects like this in CA.

    Careful though Eric.  By mentioning such a wasteful spending endeavor as HSR you’re going to face the wraith of all these SJI Refugee Republicans.  Their angry comments should follow any minute now.

  3. Eric,

    I don’t think I’m alone when I say that SJI has lost most of its mojo.  Looking at the list of luminaries on the left-hand side of the homepage reveals that all of the old guard, but for Pierluigi, have been retired, axed, or otherwise left behind. 

    I’m rapidly losing interest in this “new” structure.  I do congratulate those from the past for building a successful and interesting SJI.  Think I’ll be moving along now.

  4. You know this will happen:

    About once a week we hear of someone committing suicide by jumping in front of a Caltrain.

    With High Speed Rail zipping along at 220 MPH you just KNOW that the crazies will be competing to be the first to get splattered by a HSR train.

    On the upside: It will be a slow week on the Golden Gate Bridge.

  5. You’re right J in Berryessa,

    If were not throwing taxpayer money at gazillionaires or using it to build schools, bridges, and infrastructure in Iraq, than it’s considered “waste and pork” by the GOP (Grand Obstructionist Party).

    Patriotism anyone?

    Yes to HSR and downtown’s future Diridon Transit Center!

  6. I always cringe when I see these ‘Billion with a B’ dollar projects paid for with bonds. Who is buying these bonds, what interest do we pay on them nowadays, and when will people (China?) stop buying them?

  7. #8- C’mon Kenny. Stop being such a shill for the Republicans. Listen instead to the Enlightened Ones when they tell you, “sit down and shut up”!

  8. #8 Kenny,
    Great question, but it should have been asked during the last administration.  How many trillions in debt were we on January 20?

  9. Listening to the HSR argument on SJI inside resembles listening to the ‘stimulus’ package debate in Washington. Can anybody, somewhere, offer some sort of sophisticated analysis which says why this particular expenditure ($ amount and targets) results in a good return? HSR in the abstract is nice, but it’s not nice at any price. Eric and others: what’s the success metric (cost/ride or whatever) that makes you think this is a good expenditure, and what amount would be too much? Many of these gov’t sponsored projects sure look alot like blank checks and lack any fundamental fiscal discipline, such as any type of quantifiable success metric, or a plan for what to do if costs or riderships or whatever don’t meet expectations. I’m not opposed in principle, but a “wouldn’t it be nice to have hsr” argumennt doesn’t fly when it doesn’t provide cost/benefit analysis.

  10. While the debate for whether or not this is the best time to throw in this nifty high speed rail, it is no doubt an awesome featured to add to our neck of the world.

    Just think of the possibilities this HSR will add to our lives.  The opportunity to experience LA venues including concerts, theater, Disney Land, and the list goes on. 

    The only rebuttal I have on the fact that we’re in an economic crisis is nothing short of “ooh, hey a new toy.”  But like the space program during the Kennedy years, I think the HSR will add that exciting new flair to live that I think our neck of the US has been missing.  Silicon Valley isn’t what it once was so why not make it apart of something new.

    Adding to the excitement of new ways to get places has always been a key part in Earth’s development.  Why stop now?

    And that’s all I’ve got to say.

    -Andrew