Transbay Transit Center Aerial
rendering by steelblue

When the projected cost for the first phase of San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center rose from $1.6 billion to $1.9 billion last year, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) diverted a portion of the funds which had been dedicated to the second phase of the project (the extension of track for Caltrain and High Speed Rail from Fourth and King to the Transbay Center at First and Mission) and changed the skin of the terminal from glass to perforated aluminum.

With the projected costs for constructing the terminal having increased by another $150 million, the TJPA has stripped $53 million in “cosmetics” from the building to help keep a lid on the overall $1.9 billion budget.  From the Chronicle with respect to the latest round of building changes:

For one, the terminal’s walls and beams will be “more bare bones” – rather than flecked with glass fibers to given them a more finished look.

The bus deck will also be bare concrete, and the ceiling design will use cheaper materials.

Fixtures that were supposed to be made of stainless steel will now be galvanized, painted steel.

Also noted, private donors and sponsors will be sought to help pay for a number of rooftop park features.

The construction of San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2017.

168 thoughts on “Transbay Transit Center Design Changes As Costs Climb”
  1. This is a mild disappointment compared to building a TransBay Terminal with no links to mass transit or rail

    We are being strangled by our planning process

  2. Is the full street level park really part of the plan? This is the first rendering I’ve seen with the park extending all the way to 2nd Street. I was not aware that the buildings (i.e., Adolf Gasser, ZipCar, e-waste recycler) at 2nd and Howard were going to be torn down. Can anyone verify the full park is correct?

    1. I think that park will only exist when the caltrain extension is done. That is supposed to go underground from the west end of the terminal and curve down to second – and so they need to remove all the buildings in that area to do that (not to mention tearing up second street) for cut-and-cover, and will finish covering with a park rather than buildings on top of the tunnel curve.

      but since caltrain extension is not even funded, I would assume that the buildings will stay and no park for a while.

  3. We’re being strangled by NIMBYs and by Tea Party types who don’t realize that at current interest rates, it’s criminal not to be building infrastructure left and right. (NIMBY’s, because they think we can preserve San Francisco circa 1950, and Tea Partiers because they don’t trust a single thing that government does or proposes – if a government agency says ‘grass is green’, they’d yell in opposition.)

    We need Caltrain and high-speed rail to the Transbay Terminal; we also need subways down Geary and Van Ness; a faster E/W connection along 16th street; a 2nd subway bore in SoMa (e.g., along Howard or Folsom); a 2nd transbay tube; etc. But we’re going to be lucky to get a glorified bus terminal. Very, very sad.

    1. Sierrajeff, the tea party and republicans are irrelevant in California. Basically we are in a one party state….and still it is nearly impossible to get anything done.

      1. Different crazy hat, same results. This is a generation fight, with the older who had everything since they were born and are slowly losing grip to the next generation. The new generation wants more mass transit and more responsible transportation choices in general, the older generation are afraid it means they’ll lose their right to have their cars. The new generation wants more density, which befits the need for smarter transportation, the older generation equates density with too many people (especially too many people not like them).

        If you look closely at NIMBYism in SF vs Tea Party: the hatred of everything “public”, the hatred of density and the diversity that comes with it, these are common characteristics of a generation that just won’t accept it’s on the way out. Such a shame for a generation that was given so much and took more than it gave.

        1. Thanks to lol and anon and sierrajeff for hijacking this thread with political comments. The article is about construction cost over runs. So throwing in the words ‘nimby” and “tea party” have any relevance?

          They don’t. If anyone is to blame, its about poor construction management, poor cost analysis and expensive construction detailing.

          Stick to the facts.

          1. Just whose facts would those be? I was responding to zig’s comment that we’re being strangled by the planning process. And in any event, if the public were more supportive of government generally and public infrastructure projects in particular, then these particular cost overruns would not be nearly so major a concern – so I think the poisoned public attitude toward government and spending is precisely relevant to a discussion about the ever-whittled-back Transbay Terminal.

          2. I sense I struck a chord there. Do you have a Google Alert for any posts that talk about cars and NIMBYs?

            About cost overruns, we had no problem with the Eastern Span cost overruns. Hey, want an extra billion? Two? Name your price, cars need to be moving!

            But for getting HSR to actually get to its destination, which was one of the major selling points of the transbay terminal? Nope, suddenly it’s too expensive.

      2. And CA is not a one party state. Do not equate SF with the rest of CA. The battle over HSR is typical that way. Coastal, more liberal counties want HSR. Inland, more conservative counties do not want HSR. Unfortunately for us, we have to cross inland. Of course, NIMBYs in the peninsula are another factor.

        1. 1. I’m all for HSR. Always have been. just so you know. And yes, it should have gone to the terminal.
          2. Large complex projects always have cost over-runs. I don’t like that, but it’s reality. But YOU and others are trying to take the easy way out toward blame by attaching the words nimby, tea party, cars to the cost over run problems. They are NOT connected.
          3. Construction cost over runs are largely caused by incompetent management, over selling of the design or materials, and complex and expensive design/assembly solutions. That’s where I want to see the blame attached.

          Bringing in political ideology is a simplistic way to attach blame.

          1. Cost overruns are almost built in. That’s an open secret: you sell a small number and after that you’ll work to get the money you really need. Of course doing that opens you to all sorts of lawsuits. But no one did a lawsuit to stop the Bay Bridge from being completed, since the car-friendly republicans and the realist democrats has a common ground. But for HSR the progressives are meeting huge resistance from the conservatives.

        1. No, cost over-runs are not “built-in”. That’s a myth. That myth comes from people (lol) who don’t trust anyone and who don’t understand the deep complexities of architectural design, engineering and construction.

          Contractor pricing/bidding always has clauses of exceptions and variables. Not all materials have been 100% tested in the field before final specifying. Material specs often have “or equals” attached, which can affect the final cost. Unknown conditions typically occur, and often exceed the available construction contingency. Construction is not an exact science; it deals with procedure, people, materials, delays, changes in design by the client and/or the design team.

          But, just to clarify to lol: Construction costs have nothing to with car friendly republicans, realist democrats, conservatives, and other irrelevant factors.

      3. But the right-wing GOP at the federal level is the one sapping funds for high-speed rail and urban infrastructure (just as they have allowed transit pass tax credits to fall back below the level of credits allowed for parking passes – which is another thing that’s downright criminal in my mind). If the federal government were funding infrastructure today like it did from the 1950s through 1990s, we’d be in a much better position.

        1. As a percentage of GDP, the funding is about where it was during the 1980s through the 1990s. Also, your diatribe is meaningless when you consider that Democrats control the Senate and the Executive Branch. Obama could easily shift funds around, but he does not. He could easily make transportation one of the cornerstones of his budget, but he does not. Also, what happened to the shovel ready projects funded by the federal stimulus. Oh, yeah, they weren’t shovel ready, and they didn’t really stimulate the economy. Plus, should all taxpayers be responsible for a transit center in SF. Shouldn’t the state and the city pay for it. After all, SF just put a 14.9 billion dollar budget into play for the next 2 years. Couldn’t they have easily slipped a couple hundred million to this project? California’s last budget was $108 billion. Couldn’t they slip a couple hundred million to this project? Oh, yeah, it’s the evil Republican’s fault that California can’t pay for it’s own projects.

          1. Not sure what funding you are referring to, but the Reagan Administration was the nadir for Federal support of railroads and cities in the past 50 years. He gutted HUD and cut Federal funding to local gov’t by 60% in his first term. It was brutal.

            I was living in DC at the time, and though it didn’t affect me, tens of thousands of people working in transportation, housing, education, and urban lost their jobs. All those cuts were more than made up for by increases to DoD/CIA/etc. Springtime for people with skills like Edward Snowden, winter for urban planners and rail engineers.

            Reagan did raise the gas tax to help highways, mostly to benefit suburbs, but otherwise did his best to privatize and/or turn over to the states plenty of Federal infrastructure responsibilities. He specifically opposed funding LA Metro Rail.

            The GOP has carried forward that legacy.

            Anyone that thinks a president can “easily shift funds around” doesn’t understand that Congress either specifically targets or narrowly subscribes most infrastructure funding.

            For example, the Army Corps of Engineers has about $30 million set aside to help repair/demolish SF’s rotting piers thanks to Nancy Pelosi. And not just any piers, the legislation names the few piers the money can be used for. About $4 million was used to demolish Pier 36 when the Brannan Warf Park was built and Pier 30-32 is on the list. It is buried inside a huge reauthorization of the Corps (WRDA 2007) that has to be passed every 5 years or so and was passed over President Bush’s veto.

            A president can negotiate and horse trade, but really can’t control what Congress decides to fund. It’s in the Constitution.

          2. CA gets back less in spending from the Federal Gov than it pays in individual income taxes. I am sure the same is true of the Bay Area in the context of CA. So it the current structure damn straight the Feds should be paying for regional infrastructure. It is one of their purposes

  4. Whatever is going on, removed the ridiculous bridge tower thing on the bus ramp. Is there not enough visual intrigue going on that we must Disnefy every available free space? Resist the look-at-me temptation, kids.

    1. The “ridiculous bridge tower thing” is what holds up the bus ramp. Without the tower and cables, the ramp would need numerous columns beneath the roadway to support it.

      1. But does it need to be cable stayed? It looks really expensive. I’d rather have a bridge with some columns than a half a$$ed terminal.

        1. The cable stayed design is a visual nod to the new bay bridge with the single tower support system.
          And in all probability, without the cable stay design on the bus ramp would most likely require a sea of columns at ground/pedestrian level. This really is a much “cleaner” design. Would most likely not cost less with columns since there would be extensive footings and underpinnings, dealing with the roadway below.

  5. I don’t understand why they just don’t build the high speed rail straight down HWY 101 to San Jose and beyond. (Ala BART in the East Bay). Keep Caltrain as a separate local thing, like a streetcar line. If they did something like that they would reduce the NIMBYism of the Peninsula communities AND they would reduce private car use because they would reduce lanes on 101. I think that “old” people would ultimately like more mass transit, because we won’t always be able to drive.

    1. This is a very bad idea as you have eliminated every BART and Caltrain and pedestrian connection now and forever and most development opportunities around stations

      1. The next HSR stop from San Francisco should be San Jose, or *maybe* Palo Alto – if HSR starts inteconnecting with multiple BART and Caltrain stations, then it stops being high speed…

        1. Someone hasn’t seen how successful HSR systems are run. I was in Japan last week, and wowzers, there are Shinkansen stations every 10 miles! Yet somehow they’re high speed. It’s all about scheduling – locals, expresses, limiteds, limited expresses, etc.

          1. They’re so successful in France that lines were getting saturated and the latest trend has been density. Double-deckers are the norm on the South TGV.

        2. As Zig mentioned, it’s not rocket science. You can have SF-LA and SJ-LA on the same line. Both would go full speed. It’s been done for 50 years now in Japan, and for 30 years in France

          1. The other point is you don’t preclude Milbrae as an example from being a huge hub in 20 or 50 years that could support HSR

        3. Some trains can stop more frequently and some less. This is how other countries do it. We need to think in terms of a network

        4. Look, major HRS supporter here. Those are all fine points, except in those systems the trains actually go at high speed between the stations. Given existing curve, tunnel and grade-crossing constraints on the Peninsula – especially in S.F. – the HSR won’t go all that fast (in the rest-of-the-world sense) until it clears San Jose. If the train went 220 m.p.h. between S.F.-Millbrae-Palo Alto-Mountain View-San Jose, that’d be one thing. But when going 75 to 110 at most on those stretches, every stop added is further delay (which then further impacts ridership).

          The other problem with any Peninsula stop is the need to rebuild Caltrain stations. Caltrain platforms are currently low, to abide by freight line regulations. Any HSR platforms, by contrast, will be higher (level entry, akin to BART / Muni). I.E., the trains can’t use the same platforms, so each added stop also adds material cost increases (read: increased political opposition).

          1. 1 – All the HSR I have tried in Europe have the same features. They have to take the existing rail close to the destination. Yes it does slow down the average speed, but not by much.

            2 – But when going 75 to 110 at most on those stretches, every stop added is further delay. Uh? What stops? If you take a SJ-LA direct trip, you can design with no stop. If you take a SF-LA direct, same thing. You’re thinking Caltrain inefficiency. We’re talking smart scheduling.

            For instance there are dozens of high speed trains that depart Paris to the south of France. 2 of them bring me to the small town I am going to without any stop! then the train stop at 2 other stations before reaching its final destination. It skipped many stations on the way, often taking a dedicated bypass within the station. It’s not so hard to conceive, is it? And it’s being done every day there.

          2. Apparently we’ve reached the end of reply nesting!

            From what I understand – and this is based on both draft operating statements and some otherwise very pro-HSR blogs – the problem with the section between SF and SJ is that there’s simply not room for those kinds of bypasses. When you factor in existing ROW restrictions and Caltrain’s own operational needs, you don’t get enough necessary windows to shunt a truly high-speed train down the Peninsula. It’s always going to have to interface with Caltrain, much of which is, *and will remain (for the time being)* a 2-track system.

            For example, just take the bottleneck that is the Bayshore tunnel – there are zero plans to bore a 2nd tunnel, meaning all Caltrain runs (which, BTW, are expected to increase in number with electrification) have to mesh with any HSR runs.

            Again, don’t get me wrong, I 100% support HSR, and would be waving the flag even if they proposed boring a HSR-dedicated tunnel all the way from SFO to Millbrae. I’m just saying that regardless of what actually *does* happen in other countries, based on what I’ve read we *won’t* see true high-speed operation on the Peninsula.

          3. I don’t think anyone is planning for true High speed operations on the peninsula. we’re talking about 45 miles, 55 at most. With the right scheduling this could be achieved at 80+MPH which would be very decent. And trains starting from SJ would not have this issue.

  6. Non-starter to reduce the number of lanes on a freeway. Also, using the 101 or the 280 corridors on the peninsula has been studied as part of the Alternatives Analysis for CHSR. Details are provided on the Authority’s web site.

  7. noemom,

    Yes, this sounds logical, right?

    But HSR needs more straight lines. It needs 2 tracks. It needs physical protection and therefore blocking of the way. None of the coastal parts of the 101 or the existing tracks allow that for now, which would mean some major works along the (protected) coast. If you liked the NIMBYs along the peninsula, you’re gonna love the ones from Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach. The Surfrider foundation for one would block you from preventing coastal access from the freeway. Anytime I pass by Gaviota or Refugio or El Capitan I see kids with their surfboards hopping the tracks.

    1. HSR also needs to be part of a transit network to succeed. Putting park and ride stations in highway medians is a terrible idea and determines what the system can ever be

    2. Much as I would love it, I am quite sure the HSR line goes through the Central Valley and nowhere near Gaviota.

        1. PDSF. Please please go back to the original argument. noemom said the 101 route would be better, but was discarded. I was giving arguments, outside of the original study’s conclusions that explain why this was a non-starter.

          Not everything is always in the latest post. It’s a long thread.

  8. I think SoMa needs more open space (see my previous comments about turning the entire block of the temporary Transbay Terminal into a park) – but it seems like a waste of space and potential income to have a surface-level park along Howard when the entire multi-block roof of the adjacent new Transbay Terminal will be open space. It’d make more sense to sell off those Howard lots for development, and use the funds to build the Transbay Terminal the way originally planned.

    1. Because we NEED open space in the downtown area!! why is that so hard to grasp?

      Must every last remaining piece of open space be built on?


      1. Um, chill dude. Did you even read my first sentence? Did you both to search for my other posts, where I argue for more open space in SoMa? Good lord, relax.

  9. @ sierrajeff:

    Ah………the facts of the article, written by SS editors. Cost overruns of construction. Changes to materials, assemblies, quality.

    There was no mention of nimby’s or tea partiers (which in truth have absolutely NOTHING to do with construction cost over runs).

    Until you brought them into the mix.

    1. There were Billions to fill the cost overruns of the Bay Bridge eastern span. But nothing for Transbay Terminal. There’s a slant towards individual transportation that cannot be denied.

    2. Thanks for posting the same comment in two locations. Way to underscore the legitmacy of your point.

      If you thought this topic was inappropriate, why are you drawing attention to it and keeping it alive?

  10. I am also outraged some tried to hijack this and turn it into a faux generational war. I am politically very liberal but after doing a lot of reading I think the final Transbay terminal fails to provide what it set out to do which was to be a regional transit hub. With no CalTrain or HSR it’s just the world’s most expensive bus terminal .

    As for HSR, why didn’t they select coastal Southern California which has the greatest population density in the country and has been very supportive of the project to be the region to get the first tracks instead of Bakersfield and Fresno ? I can see the southland building and heavily using HSR while the Bay Area is still trying to figure things out.

    1. The reason why I think it is a generational issue? Easy. Many debates in California are about what some people would gain vs what other people would lose. One generation came joined at the hips to their cars. Another uses the best transportation for the job.

      Now old coots whining they’re losing their former privileges would be one thing, but public policy is determined to please them:

      – upgrade the antiquated Bay Bridge eastern span for cars: money is no object!
      – upgrade the antiquated rail system for public transportation: we can’t afford it!

      By the way, they did study the 101 route. The report can be found here.

      I guess they knew what they were doing, but it’s pretty painful to see the current HSR project path. They had no problem putting the 101 in there though…

      1. Ridiculous as usual. And once more, as usual, you tie all of your arguments to the car.

        Funny thing, a lot of my younger, well paid tech friends own cars: A Tesla here, lots of BMW’s, Mini’s, Fiat 500’s.

        Hmmmmmm.. why is that? Because they LIKE freedom of choice, and the freedom to hop in their OWN vehicle and head to Tahoe, or Sonoma, or down the coast.

        Freedom. That’s what we love in California. “Go where you wanna go, do what you wanna do…” Thanks Mama Cass.

        1. As I said: “another (generation) uses the best transportation for the job”.

          The lack of alternative is what pushes many people into cars in . And then there are the car lovers that you just cannot convince.

          1. Convince of what?

            That they should ride their bikes for a weekend to Tahoe?
            That they should hop on the bus to Tahoe or Wine Country?
            That they should simply restrict their freedom of movement by ONLY doing it your way?

          2. Now that’s the futurist I know. Throwing straw men around one after the other.

            If I resume: creating alternative forms of transportation would restrict your freedom. Sigh.

          3. And you simply refuse to be open to ALL modes of transit that work for people. You continue to name call. You continue to be ageist. You continue to insult.

            Your disdain for cars is amazing.

          4. yet I own a car and use it when other means of transportation do not work. I also own good shoes, a good bike, a transit pass and have a HSR ticket in my back pocket. I am not telling you what to do, but I’ll tell you to let others have the option.

          5. Futurist, the trouble with your line of reasoning is that for you, “be open to ALL modes of transit” means mandating cars everywhere, and optionally allowing other modes as a bonus.

            Build in a walkable neighborhood? Sure, as long as you provide for privately owned cars for everyone.
            Build next to a transportation nexus? Sure, as long as you reserve space for everyone to also bring their cars, no matter the cost.
            Build in the middle of nowhere where your only choice is to have a car? No problem! Valid option!
            Build in the middle of the city, where, since space is limited and you can only afford so much, you sacrifice the garage, leaving your “only” choices as walking or transit or biking or taxis or motorized scooters or carshare or rentals or delivery services…? Nope, that’s not a real “choice” because it doesn’t involve choosing to own a car. Oh, you don’t need to actually own one, just don’t expect a discount– you’re still paying for 300 square feet of prime car-storage real estate, use it or lose it.

  11. I think the block long park is a waste , the best way to get the Transbay built so it matches the vision would be to allow the park to be instead developed ,

  12. Where are those cars going underneath natoma street? Isn’t that where the train tracks are going to be? Or is this some sort of escher drawing? I assume that park is only there after they build the caltrain track extension to 4th/king, which is currently not funded (as they took that funding away from earlier cost overruns)

  13. I’m really confused by the cars that appear to be going under the Terminal, underneath the bus overramp.

    Also, I agree with others here that destroying some fine looking brick buildings for an as of yet unlandscaped park (if we don’t have money for Terminal finishes, surely we don’t have money for a proper park) is a complete waste. I would be fine either keeping those buildings or selling them off to be upzoned/re-entitled for greater density.

    I *don’t* think that section of South Financial District needs that much more greenspace and we are getting some on top of the Transbay Terminal, which will be quite large as it is. I think there are better places to put needed greenspace than this.

    These cost overruns have nothing to do with ideology or politics or the Planning Process and are an unfortunate part of the process. Though I do agree that there are weird standards around here. The Bay Bridge needed to happen, overruns and all, but the end result is such a disappointment for the amount of money spent on it (I actually miss the old bridge!). The same needs to happen for the Terminal…wish there were the same level of backing of the Terminal, Caltrans, and HSR as there was the bridge (though the bridge also took DECADES). People who go to Tahoe and Napa should be able to keep cars…and fortunately usually those are the people who can afford to. Doesn’t mean they commute to work via them. SF can’t simultaneously eliminate parking spots and discourage them from being built and not improve transit drastically. Maybe there is a political push against more transit and that’s why it’s not happening. Lots to ponder.

  14. I agree with jsimms3 , it is a waste to spend the $100s of millions it will take to turn Howard St into a green space.

    On the open market the Green Space would demand some where between $250M – $300M , that would reduce the cost of the project , AND make available funds needed to connect Cal Train to the Trans Bay Terminal.

    1. And there has to be balance in place: balancing open space, walkability, light, air, sun, human scale amenities WITH developing spaces for buildings.

      If we don’t have this carefully negotiated balance, then the build build build faction will eventually turn us into another Houston.

      1. In the FUTURE , we need a way to pay for things and we are getting a huge park at ground level , and on top of the Trans bay , PLUS along Folsom , this stretch of Howard does not need an additional park

  15. I am sad to see this development move a littler farther along the continuum that runs from icon to eyesore.

    1. First they decided to replace the beautiful Starphire glass skin with perforated aluminum that will look awful in another 10 years just to save less than $20 million and now they want to eliminate “cosmetics” to save $53 million. It will end up looking like the interior of a Walmart Supercenter.

  16. Futurist,

    Look at the design plans on the Socketsite link below (“Oscar” park). It shows existing greenspace and what is proposed. Do we need this other park to replace these buildings and add more greenspace here? As a nearby office worker, I say not. Rincon Hill/TB Redevelopment area is also getting a new park for the residents, and the waterfront is right near by.

    Destroying these cool old brick buildings for unneeded parkspace is a little dumb, imo.

    1. Yes, I do think we need this additional green space. Here’s why:
      A lot more additional residential units will be very near this location. Many of those units do not have outdoor space/balconies. This park will add solid open space to those residents/families/kids.
      I doubt if these “cool old brick buildings” were forcibly sold. They would all need extensive seismic upgrade to be viable. The owners made money. Open space is gained.

      1. Except , you already have Oscar park that is several blocks long ,
        a huge park over the Trans bay that is several blocks long ,
        AND a Full block were the temp Trans Bay is function that will be turned into a park

        Howard Should be developed , its an easy $300M in fees and many many $$ Millions in annual revenue if these handful of lots get developed ,

        I know you HATE TO LISTEN TO OTHERS 🙂
        But Howard should be developed

        1. I think we should seize Futurists’ Noe Valley home and turn it into a park. Not much open space in NV after all 🙂

          1. I’ll make you a deal. $3.875 m, all cash, 10 day closing.
            It’s all yours.

            Then you can deal with the city in trying to tear it down for your park.

        2. Joseph: You make me laugh. Really. Out loud too.

          So, say I’m the guy who doesn’t “listen to others”. Don’t you really mean you’re pissed off that I don’t AGREE with you?

          Sorry, but I can’t comply with your rules. Don’t feel too bad.

      2. Ok…first of all, of all the areas in SF, no matter how many units are built and how many parks are forced, Rincon Hill will not be a kid-friendly area, or one that even has that many kids. I know a couple families living in Infinity, but they are the exception to the rule, by far. All the other towers will be luxury RENTALS or super high end condos, with the same mix of non-kid families/singles/gay couples/speculators who rent out to young, unmarried or just married people, etc.

        And no balconies so they need a publicly funded park because their high end private development doesn’t include balconies? Or at least *large* balconies (bc most developments will have some sort of balcony).?? That makes no sense. I don’t have a balcony and have far less greenspace in my neighborhood with much higher density (greater than 50,000 ppsm)…I guess we should force the city to condemn some private buildings to build a park near me?

        Yes, these old brick buildings often need seismic work, however class B SOMA office rents are off the charts right now (higher than many buildings’ class A rents right now). Even if the buildings were to be sold as-is, there is a market for them right now…a super strong market for them. We looked at renting space in a building on Howard across the street on the same block…asking low $70s rent. Doubt they get more than mid-$60s, but you get the point.

        There could be a market for demo’ing these buildings and building up. Underground parking would obviously not be viable, and so that would pose a difficult situation. However, the point is I DON’T WANT TO SEE A PARK THERE!! 😉

  17. I don’t agree at all with those who say that some commenters are attempting to hijack the thread with political comments. We’re going to get a TransBay Terminal with no links to high speed rail specifically due to politics, and the fact that a lot of reactionary people think that the mere existence of HSR will threaten future funding for car-centric transportation options, and so they are doing everything they can to stop it.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention to the governor’s race, one of the leading candidates for the office on the republican side is making a key plank of his primary campaign putting a stop to HSR, to the point of employing a 1980 Ozzy Osbourne song that was really about the Cold War to ridicule it.

    So I think the political situation is entirely relevant to what happens here.

    1. a lot of reactionary people think that the mere existence of HSR will threaten future funding for car-centric transportation options, and so they are doing everything they can to stop it.

      I think it runs deeper than that. The anti-everything-liberal discourse was at some point the monopoly of the crazy ultra right wing fringe. But since Obama’s election and the crystalizing of all the nuts into the TP the bulk of the GOP has fallen into an alternate reality where logic and reasoning have a dangerous liberal bias.

      The right to pollute, the right to deplete our resources, the right to deface nature. All these are inalienable rights to these nuts.

      Not that I will put our own local NIMBYs into the same bucket. They do share a few common characteristics such as an irrational fear of everything new, but I think it stops there.

      1. You analyze too much, lol. You have a fast keyboard.

        I fear absolutely nothing new. Nothing. I want cleaner, safer streets, I want homeless/drug addicts to get help and housing. I want more housing. I want high rises, where they are appropriate. I want better public transit. I want cyclists to be safe. I want the Mission to evolve and grow and change, same for Dogpatch and same for Bayview/HP. I want more trees. I want dog owners to clean up their crap. I even want HSR.

        What I don’t want is for San Francisco to completely lose its’ soul and character due to rampant growth.

        There. That should keep you happy.

        1. Yes I have noticed those things futurist. You do not need to jump at every mention of Nimby. But you’ll admit you are a bit protective for your own way of life.

          Myself, I welcome new development even if it means more supply and competition for me. I welcome the end of prop 13 and rent control even if I now benefit from both directly and indirectly.

          1. Actually no, lol.
            But YOU think everyone is suddenly “protective of their own way of life”. Whatever that means to you:
            Because they choose to take time to think about the impact of development and growth in SF, rather than just blindly accept ALL of it.

          2. I didn’t say “everyone”, I said you. You want to limit growth far from where you live because 1) it helps maintain your equity and 2) you don’t want to deal with the side-effects of increased density. You want to preserve the current quasi monopoly that cars have on street usage in SF because you want to drive across town in a few minutes.

            Please note I am not using caps when I say “you”.

          3. Actually, lol, I have to LOL.

            I would have to assume there are hundreds of thousands of property owners who want to preserve their equity. Who wouldn’t? Pretty obvious, huh?

            Of course there are side effects with density, especially if it is without controls, or reason. Filling up SF with high rise after high rise to accommodate “anyone” who wants to live here is ridiculous. Our unique “quality of life” for an American city is worth saving and protecting; while allowing responsible growth.

            And yes, cars will always be part of our transit system. And yes, it’s great to be able to get across town in a few minutes. Who wouldn’t want that?

            Glad to clarify a few points.

          4. Oh, I do value my own equity, thank you very much. One thing though is that sometimes short-term reactions go counter of long term interest. These new people in those new rental buildings have excellent jobs and will be probably wealthier than the current average. They will want to own one day in SF, maybe in 2, 5, 10 or 20 years (very good for long term equity). They will probably be more moderate politically (wealthy people do not often vote for self-punishment), and much closer to my (your?) type of liberalism. Since we cannot easily get rid of rent control, one way to change the political spectrum is to welcome more of people who lean our way.

        2. Isn’t SF’s soul and character formed mostly by the interesting, usually middle to lower middle class people who liver here? If so, would you argue that new construction is forcing them out?

          I would argue that supply and demand still works in SF. This tech boom won’t last forever and demand will come down at some point, but in the meantime, whether demand is too high to keep up with (now) or normal (not now), building more to keep up with it will work to keep housing prices down and rents down. Newer construction will be more expensive and will cater to the top of the market whereas the charming older stuff will more easily be able to house middle class people.

          Therefore, we don’t bleed out the creative class to Oakland or other metros altogether and retain more of the PEOPLE that make up SF’s soul and character.

          That’s my take. Anyway, I totally digress from this thread.

      2. I think most of the NIMBYs are very liberal. Look at the stopping of 8 Washington. People for affordable housing who stopped that are like the uneducated poor in the deep South voting republican. It’s against their economic interest but they have been idealogically duped.

        1. I fully supported 8 Washington. It was a relatively small building, compared to what was behind it. Matters not to me if it was “luxury” or not.

        2. “Look at the stopping of 8 Washington. People for affordable housing who stopped that are like the uneducated poor in the deep South voting republican.”

          I did a tiny bit to stop 8 Washington. I’ve got a PhD from Stanford (Computer Science). Spencer, could you get into Stanford even as an undergrad? My guess is that the answer would be “no”.

          1. I went to Duke for undergrad (economics and psychology and played defensive back (duke sucked at football then) and PhD from Berkely in Neuroscience with a focus on perception and cognition. i know a lot about the ability for people to be duped out of their own self interest, but im sure i dont know as much as you about computer programming. i didnt apply to stanford, but feel good that i couldve gotten into undergrad there. can i ask why you brought up education since i didn’t really mention that topic. ? Also why were you against 8 washington? I grew up in the south and saw the transformation from it being very democratic to being republican and people were plain duped by ideaology. I see a lot of similarities here with people who are in favor of affordable housing and complain about costs in SF, but at the same time are against new development. they have fallen into an ideological trap. Im not saying everyone was against prop 8 for that reason, because some were selfish (the rich people in the highrise next door), but there were a lot of people who blocked it because they want affordable housing. and that really doesnt make economic sense. its just herd mentality.

    2. We’re going to get a TransBay Terminal with no links to high speed rail

      Nah, it’ll happen. It will take longer than it should, but it will happen.

  18. There is more to the TransBay story. The cost savings mentioned do not solve the problem. To cover the deficit, all the local funds accumulated from rezoning, increasing heights and selling property will have to go to pay for the Terminal building.

    The City undertook a five year rezoning project for TransBay at the cost of around $500,000 to generate new value in the area which could be monetized and invested in the downtown train tunnel extension. It was estimated that some $400m would be created this way. That would be a nice local share to help get State and Federal funds for the tunnel.

    The City’s is currently spending $200,000+ on a planning study of the Caltrain yards to see if through development more funds could be generated for the tunnel. However, with the rezoning funds lost, it will be much harder to get funds for the extension. It would be safe to concluded that no extension will occur in this century and thus there will be no reason to redevelop the current yards. However, there will grand bus station which is all the TransBay JPA ever wanted in the first place. A very sad story.

  19. A key point here, as with many things, is that ideology is nice, but implementation really matters.

    You can make some good points about government vs the commercial world, but when it comes right down to it you’re putting money (or not) into a specific entity. The Japanese government is not going to come here and build our trains for us. Even in the commercial world, there are Googles and there are Zyngas, iPods and Zunes. The specifics of the team, the product, the industry matter greatly.

    Just as it’s extremely important to look at a companies history of success or failure, it’s also relevant and not really ideological to look at the bay area’s transportation governance record of successes and failures to think about how effective any future money or projects will be. After all, if someones isn’t lining up overnight to get the next ZunePhone, it doesn’t imply that they’re anti-corporate.

    And as with tech startups, while those with extremely low standards may consider themselves “bulls”, I find that the reality is that consumers with low standards merely allows produces to perform at that low level. Investors willing to buy any tech stock regardless of financials will ensure the creation of tech stocks with financials too horrible to look at. Voters who support transit projects unconditionally or for reasons other than the realistic improvement of our transit situation (i.e. because it feels green, it creates jobs, it strikes a blow against evil cars, it provides subsidized transit for the poor,…) will find that politicians and the system are only happy to oblige their lowered expectations.

    1. I think you forgot to tell us what your background is in transportation planning. I know you have stated in the past that you don’t think non-professionals should be questioning professional transportation experts, which is what you are doing here. Please let us know what your credentials are or admit that you are a hypocrite.

      The planners have warned us that we need to expand our North-South transportation networks to meet expected population growth. It can be done via more airports and highways or at a lower cost via HSR. Given that HSR is a proven technology there is less risk using it than trying to build out airports in a crowded urban area.

      Or at least that was their reasoning, which makes sense to me.

      1. I recall the comment to which you are referring, but you’ve got the wrong twin so to speak as that was a different anon2.

        I absolutely believe that people should look carefully at what their money is being spent on both in the private and public sector. Expertise should be respected, but there are as many opinions as there are experts and self-interest is a powerful motivator. Politicians are experts in gaining re-election and some consultants they hire are experts in collecting consulting fees.

    2. “The Japanese government is not going to come here and build our trains for us”

      Oh but I wish they could!!! What the Shinkansen has that our HSR will not have is bypass routes which allows a train from Kyoto or Osaka to avoid stops and stopped trains in between, thanks to the new “blended” system design. What we have that Japan does not have is one of the greatest high speed highway systems in the world. Could we have them come build our trains in exchange for us going over there to build more roads? Do you know what a joke Caltrain or MUNI is compared to transit in Japan? And people wonder why there are so many car owners in San Francisco.

      1. Yes, transit projects are more successful in Japan. There is a major cultural difference. In Japan there’s a sense of working in harmony for common good. In the USA we’re all about “what’s in it for ME?” and if there isn’t enough then fire up the lawyers.

        1. In Japan they also value cleanliness in the public space and crime is low. I love the Tokyo Metro and each time I’ve been there and return, I just find the disgusting circus that is BART to be even more absurd and infuriating.

          I don’t eschew public transit because of some ego-centric philosophy, I do it because it’s full of repulsive people. Case in point, I will ride MUNI at peak commute hours even though it’s crowded because at least it’s crowded with “normal” people. But evenings and weekends, NFW. Obviously I’m not the only one who feels that way.

          This is a fixable problem for the transit agencies – they can keep things clean and safe if they want to but they choose not to. Just like the city chooses to do nothing about the homeless. That’s the major cultural difference.

          1. I am also disgusted by what is public transit in San Francisco and cannot understand why it seems more disgusting and without any effort for cleanliness than any other public transit system in the country. I used to ride the Washington D.C. metro and almost never encountered the smells, urine, or crazies that one sees in both the stations and on the trains and busses in San Francisco. How is Los Angeles able to keep their busses, trains and subways so clean? Even Chicago does a much better job. How this new Transbay bus terminal is going to find the funds to keep the station clean will be a challenge.

  20. These detail changes are not too disappointing thought the loss of stainless fixtures will be missed. The worst of the value engineering was the last round which replaced the glass curtain wall with the perforated metal. That perforated metal will look terrible in a few years.

  21. Did anyone see the latest HSR forecast time from Norwalk (north of Los Angeles) to Berkeley/Oakland on CA HSR is 8 hours 37 minutes in 2026? People are trying to make this is about generational war or Tea Party voters when the real problem is CA HSR is a complete mess. NOTE that at this time there is no real timeline for when it could get to Transbay. Like the Transbay terminal which is also mentioned in video link, HSR is being fought not because it is not a good idea, but because they are unable to deliver what they promised.

    1. I’m skeptical about this slow train forecast. For starters Norwalk is southeast of LA, not north. Also this initial HSR project serves neither Berkeley nor Norwalk. And 8.5 hours is not much of an improvement over the current daily Amtrak service on slow, century old tracks.

  22. Exactly MoD, most of the high speed tracks that would be in place by 2026 would ONLY be between Madera and Bakersfield and this new “blended” system is causing the disgust from many early supporters. Berkeley was selected because it would be a possible destination due to existing tracks vs Transbay Terminal which could have none. Although trains would be able to speed up during portions of new tracks, both in the Bay Area and Southern California they would have to slow back down because new tracks would not be in place, hence the 8.5 hour estimate provided by outside expert observers. “The panel of experts was created by state law to help safeguard the public’s interest. The report said that moving ahead on the high-speed rail project without credible sources of adequate funding represents a financial risk to California.”
    For San Francisco to San Jose “High-speed trains will run at reduced speeds on this segment beginning with Bay to Basin in 2026, and then on dedicated HSR infrastructure. The one-way fare between San Francisco and San Jose is expected to cost $22 in 2013 dollars” .

    IF HSR can win all the lawsuits from Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, etc., there are NO plans currently in place to build dedicated HSR tracks in the Bay Area before 2026. I’m sorry to say we are not Asia or Europe, and this expansion of HSR is too slow and costly compared to how other systems were created. HSR should not take this long, take this much money or be this slow. I’m getting my information from outside reviewers instead of just on the HSR site, but let’s remember, we voted for a 35 billion dollar plan that would run trains at over 200 mph and be competitive with flying and driving. We are now looking at a plan at over 100 billion that will be slower than driving or flying and more expensive.

    1. Yeah it is a terrible shame that the NIMBYs are dragging this out and making it so expensive. That is how the planning process works in the 21st Century though. Anyone with a few bucks can file a lawsuit and cost The State hundreds of millions of dollars in delays.

    2. “California high-speed rail will connect the mega-regions of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands. By 2029, the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of over 200 miles per hour.”

      What is your source for this TTS? I know that the train opponents are getting desperate as it is obvious that they are losing the political fight, they have started throwing some serious FUD.

    3. “Berkeley was selected because it would be a possible destination due to existing tracks vs Transbay Terminal which could have none.”

      Actually Berkeley seem to be chosen because they would make this HSR trip look bad. The tracks between Berkeley and SJ include many grade crossings and even run down the middle of the street through JLS. Then there’s that malfunction junction in south Fremont. These sorts of things really slow the train down.

      Someone could walk from the SF Transbay site to Caltrain today and get to SJ faster then their counterpart departing Berkeley. So why didn’t TrainTooSlow choose a traditional SF to LA trip instead for his example?

      NoeValleyJim nailed it, our political process is handicapping HSR, not the economic or technical details. And then you get people like TrainTooSlow spreading FUD with cherry picked scenarios.

  23. Read the articles on the lawsuits mentioned both here on Socketsite and in other sources such as Los Angeles Times, SFGate and Sacramento Bee. Speaking of sources, it is important to get information outside the HSR website as well as their own information, as they have been wrong on everything so far from budget, timelines, fares, etc. It would be like only watching FOX News to get information. There are two sides to the HSR story.
    The new “blended” system of slower speed trains is the main cause for lawsuits along with extended completion dates, and increased budgets. I have no sympathy for Peninsula Nimbys, just like I have little time for people who only get their information from Streetsblog or SFBC. HSR has turned into a big expensive complicated mess.

    1. Bullet train won’t meet target travel time, lawmakers told
      “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.”

      There you go, 3 hours and 10 minutes from LA to SF. You still haven’t been able to source your claim.

  24. NVJ, I’m feeling charitable so here is one link and a quote from the most troubling lawsuit:

    “He objects to “the blended system” in which some trains use current transit infrastructure, some trains go slow and others go faster, in other words, not real high-speed rail and “not what the state tax-payers voted for.” “Under this plan, we’re getting ripped off, no question about it,” said Kopp. The new plan is devoid of the protections that were put in the bond measure both for those who voted for the project as well as for those who didn’t. The promise was to deliver high-speed rail train operation in a phased manner. It was required to be developed in a series of usable segments, each high-speed rail ready, that would result in a high-speed train system when all the pieces were connected. It was supposed to be done in such a very specific manner so that tax money would not be wasted.” From Kathy Hamilton SF Transportation site.

    Kopp was originally one of the organizers for HSR, his reasons for fighting it now have NOTHING to do with Nimbyism, or car loving.

    1. My understanding of the blended system is it will not result in trains being that much slower (although there is some difference here I am sure). Dedicated tracks or not HSR trains are not going to be moving at top speeds through residential areas. It is an issue of capacity for both Caltrain and HSR first as the blended system would be the capacity to carry enough trains per hour. The initial estimates of a single seat ride between SF and LA were never realistic

    2. You still have not provided a source for your bogus claim that HSR between SF and LA will take 8 hours in 2026. Kathy Hamilton is a Menlo Park NIMBY, not a reliable source.

      1. The 8 hour estimate was provided by train officials during questioning at HSR hearings. It was also quoted by Quentin Kopp and lawyers in recent press conference regarding HSR lawsuit. Who is Kathy Hamilton?

        “The problem with the blended system, Kopp said, is that it will limit the number of high-speed trains that will access San Francisco, putting ridership projections in jeopardy.

        The blended system will also not meet Proposition 1A’s mandate that the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles take just 2 hours and 40 minutes, Kopp said”

          1. estimated a SF-LA trip time of 3:50-4:40 non-stop going to between 5:10-6:00 with seven stops.
            There’s also a negative feedback loop whereby longer travel times and higher prices reduce ridership and reduced ridership necessitates more stops to keep operation economically feasible.

            This was a year ago and they did mention that track sharing with slower trains may require even more safety margins which would further increase the times above.


          2. The lawsuit is so voters and taxpayers can find out what the actual travel times are going to be. The CHANGE to the “blended” system design will completely change travel times. The outside peer review group report to the California State legislature is the one that came up with the 8 hour figure.
            This was posted earlier in this thread.

            Basically, the new HSR design is not like what we get to see in Europe or Asia, but a blended system of tracks where at certain areas of the Central Valley trains could travel faster, but near both the Bay Area and Southern California HSR trains would have to slow and use existing rails and speeds associated with that infrastructure. So there would be no HSR speeds between San Jose and SF, Sacramento and Oakland, or Los Angeles and San Diego.

          3. Anon2’s link is by far the best unbiased report on High Speed Rail out there. “The April 2012 Business Plan truncates the high speed rail infrastructure, eliminating exclusive tracks built just for high speed trains in the Los Angeles Basin and between San Jose and
            San Francisco. Instead, in those areas the high speed trains will share tracks with conventional rail, with the lines upgraded a bit to allow somewhat faster travel. But the result is inevitably slower travel and thus longer travel times between the two cities.”

          4. Again, saying that it might be 3:50 – 6:00 is not the same as saying that it will be 8 hours. Were you simply lying about the 8 hours?

            Those are estimates from a vehemently anti-rail organization (unbiased, lol), and even their extremely biased estimates are much shorter than the ridiculous number that was thrown out.

          5. From 2022 to 2026 it would be 8 hours and 30 minutes, but it is TRUE, after 2026 it would reduce to 6 hours.
            This was presented in testimony to California High Speed Rail and Transportation and Housing Committee on 4-22-13. (SB-901 HSR Funding) (found in link posted by earlier comment above)
            But even if it is 5 or 6 hours after 2026 how does this compete with driving? I can drive it in 6 hours AND have my car in Los Angeles which is very much needed down there.

          6. “Anon2′s link is by far the best unbiased report on High Speed Rail out there.”

            You’ve gotta be kidding. The Reason [to justify continued expansion of oil based transportation] Institute is hardly unbiased.

          7. “So there would be no HSR speeds between San Jose and SF”

            There were never any plans to run at HSR speeds between SJ and SF nor is it needed to provide HSR service between SF and LA.

            “Basically, the new HSR design is not like what we get to see in Europe or Asia…”

            The French TGV started out as a blended system. Look what a terrible HSR network they ended up with.

            The blended system is a temporary stopgap to get things rolling. It will be built out to a larger scale HSR network as the political winds blow favorably.

          8. Reason is a multi issue think tank formed in the 60’s.
            It isn’t a single issue, anti-train or pro-oil group.
            They supported the SFPark demand metering program for example.

            It’s tautological that someone who thinks a plan is a bad idea loses favor for it,
            The real question is if the facts and logic that inform their opinion are sound.

  25. @zig, read the latest released fine print and you will understand why some of the biggest backers of HSR are now against it. CA-HSR authorities are now talking about “express” trains that would ONLY could run mostly during “off peak” hours (after 10pm). The lawsuit by Kopp is that this is not what voters wanted, they voted for true HSR trains all the time, not 10pm till 4 am. The blended system requires HSR trains accomodating existing train schedules, and the Los Angeles area has a much busier commuter rail network than the Bay Area. The Kopp lawsuit was able to get documents released that show estimated travel times on HSR between L.A. and the Bay Area of OVER 8 hours in 2029 for the vast majority of passengers. Note that the CA-HSR website says that in 2026 trains are “capable” of running 200mph, but my car is “capable” of running over 110mph but that does not mean that is the speed I travel at. This is not about cars or bikes, Republicans or people over 65, but about a train system that is no longer going to give what was promised.

    1. Even if that’s the case, do we throw up our hands (or our milkshakes) in despair and nix HSR? Or do we decide that this data underscores how important it is to have dedicated HSR tracks and therefore agree to undertake what’s necesary to get it done? I vote for the latter.

      The same arguments being made against HSR were made against virtually every major infrastructure project in history. Go read some of the articles about the GG Bridge – an unnecessary boondoggle, structurally impossible to build, an eyesore, etc. Now a necessity and beloved. The omelet/cracking eggs saying is trite, but nevertheless true – there will always be current vested interests who will be hurt by change, but that’s not a reason to stop the change from happening.

    2. The LA area does not have a “much busier commuter rail network”. They have more lines, but MANY fewer passengers per line, and no line that even comes within spitting range of the single Caltrain line, which is busier than all LA lines combined:

      388 route miles in LA vs 77 route miles in the Bay Area, with 20% fewer passengers. That extremely low level of track use makes sharing with HSR a minor issue, verging on negligible. For Caltrain, however, it is an issue, since Caltrain’s tracks are heavily used throughout the day and especially during commute times.

  26. If you read the statements from some of the lawsuits, they do not want to stop HSR, they want HSR to instead conform to what voters asked for which is HIGH SPEED rail. To use your Golden Gate Bridge example, it would be as if the bridge were only designed to be built half way and then you would have to take a ferry the rest of the distance to Marin. Or it would be like building a Transbay Terminal to act as a regional transit hub and then change the plans and have no rail, MUNI, Caltrain or HSR stations in the terminal and only bus traffic (OOPS we already did that)/ The Kopp lawsuit is very specific and asks that each section be constructed to be high speed rail, and not “blended” tracks. The point Kopp is making is people are not going to pay over $200 for an 8 hour rail journey when they can drive for less dollars in less time.

    1. The problem is that you’re stuck paying for parking or worrying about taking your car around everywhere…nothing like a two ton purse to tote around.

    2. Except that you can’t. With one 15 minute stop, you’d have to average almost 75mph door to door. Which is impossible, unless you drove in the middle of the night.

  27. 8PM and have done it in less than 4:45 before. its easy to drive over 90 on many parts of the 5. 75mph average is not hard to achieve

    having a car while there is the best part. have you been to LA? you have to rent a car if you take a train or plane, and parking is very easy in most places.

    1. uber, ’nuff said. i don’t like lugging two tons of steel around with me everywhere i go. must be a generational thing, are you old?

  28. You’re really asking a woman if she’s old? I think we now know you’re under 20 and have no manners

  29. nope, 28. manners? whatever, i don’t like pushing my desires on everyone else, as jill seems to with the desire that everyone drive everywhere all the time.

    1. Got it. The mature thing is to force everyone else to have the same transportation preferences as you.

  30. Everytime I drive to LA with the two kids in the car, it takes 8 hours. We have to stop at least twice, once for a meal. If I hit bad traffic either going out or heading in, it can anywhere from 1-3 hours to that.

    Even when I was single and drove at night I never was able to do it in less than 6 hours. You must be really speeding to do that. I guess if you think it is okay to break the law and risk the life of everyone around you to shave a bit off your travel time, you can rationalize anything.

    How fast do you drive in town Jill? Are you one of those people who does 40 on SOMA streets?

  31. Family of four SF to LA on HSR is forecast to cost $800. Add to that your rental car in L.A. and you are vastly better off driving. We own a vacation home down here in the desert and might decide to use HSR if it went to Palm Springs but that would require us buying and leaving a car here. But with completion not forecast till 2030, I’m not making rail trip plans. Btw – four new runways could be built for $510 million instead according to Wikipedia . Why not fly and use transit and save taxpayers 96 BILLION.?

    1. Four new runways where? A new runway for SFO would reach into the tens of billions and take decades of lawsuits. OAK has the same issues. SJC is hemmed in by development. Where is this place to build runways on the cheap?

    2. From the wikipedia entry on alternatives to CHSR (namelink):

      “In a report [42] commissioned by the CHSRA a comparison is made to the needed infrastructure improvement if high-speed rail is not constructed. The report assumes the cost of building equivalent capacity to the $68.4 billion (YOE) Phase 1 Blended plan, in airports and freeways, is estimated to be $119.0 billion (YOE) for 4,295 new lane-miles of highway, plus $38.6 billion (YOE) for 115 new airport gates and 4 new runways, for a total estimated cost of $158 billion.[43]”

      The full report:

      1. This analysis is crap. It assumes the largest aircraft size for flights between the Bay Area and the Southland are 737/A320 sized aircraft. In fact, a large percentage of flights between are on commuter jets, so even upsizing all flights to a 737/A320 is more capacity today without new runways or gates.

        Even that, if there’s more demand, then aircraft can be upsized further. Hell, even the Japanese until recently were flying 747-400Ds domestically (to be replaced with other wide body aircraft).

        With no need for new runways.

        Terrible, terrible report.

        1. So you’re claiming that all new demand can be met without A. significant price increases or B. new runways?

          1. B. new runways. But that also contributes to A. significant price increases

            And the analysis is even worse – it assumes airplane size of 70 seats. The most popular 737 to order today – the 737 MAX 8 – has a 162-175 seat capacity (i see your Wikipedia reference and call it). That’s more than 2x capacity per plane than was assumed on the report.

            Yes, even planes get more fuel efficient. Just like cars. Imagine that.

          2. They’re probably making those assumptions because your plan has never actually, you know, happened in the US, even at constrained airports like the New York airports with a limited number of slots.

          3. Really, if you want to talk about real capacity constraints, you look at Heathrow. And that’s why the Airbus A380 exists.

            In any case, the fact that SFO and LAX, even with the NIMBY constraints, don’t have slot controls shows that there’s open capacity available even today.

          4. toady, you might want to reread the study that you so deride.

            It doesn’t add any capacity to either SFO or LAX because, as it says,

            “Both LAX and SFO have studied expansion possibilities and have found very limited options available to them. Expanding either airport would involve significant eminent domain takings in surrounding communities that are unrealistic in today’s environment. The capacity requirements (and costs) are shifted to the other airports in the region.”

            In the study OAK and SJC handle the additional Bay Area air traffic projected if HSR isn’t built.

            Do you really think that putting an extra ~3,500 passengers per hour through those two airports is cost free or would you like to offer a better estimate than the study?

          5. “Both LAX and SFO have studied expansion possibilities and have found very limited options available to them. ”

            How was this question posed to these airports?

            You are still assuming the only way to increase passenger capacity is to increase airport size and number of runways. You don’t need to expand capacity when there’s so much upside with the sizing of aircraft itself.

            The whole basis of the analysis is flawed when aircraft upgauging is not even considered. Like I said before, it’s a crap analysis to try to put HSR is a good light. 70 seat aircraft? That’s complete and utter BS.

            Think critically of your sources before you try to use them as sources. Really now.

          6. By the way Jake, reading a study is more than just reading the words. You might want to look at the table of assumptions made too.

          7. Um, toady, how do you know what I am assuming. All you’ve got is what I wrote.

            And I never wrote what I believe or assume about “the only way to increase passenger capacity ….”

            Or are you now a mind reader or should I say misreader?

            I did quote from wikipedia to correct the misinformation that it said 4 runways could be built for $510 million. I also pointed out to you that LAX and SFO are not covered by the report. Oh, and I asked a question you still haven’t answered.

            You might be right that airport capacity can be increased for less cost. The report certainly looks more like a quick CYA than an exhaustive tome. I’m not defending it as the last or best authority.

            If you have a better source or estimate, then why not share it?

            However much you think can be saved from the airport costs, it isn’t going to be free, is it?

            The report also estimates the added hwy costs alone are more than the cost to build HSR. Or do you have some way to increase hwy capacity for free?

            So, really, how much will it increase airport and hwy costs to not build HSR?

            Because it will increase their costs, unless somehow toady is turning into unicorn.

          8. Well that was certainly an incomprehensible response. And a funny backtrack.

            You’re so focus on one part of the cost question, you appear to not understand my point, which is if the premise of a significant part of the report is flawed, the whole thing is in question.

            As for asking me to do the estimate, that’s a dumb [but standard idiotic Internet] request. I’m challenging your sourcing of a flawed report and then you’re asking me for data? Is the assumption that if I can’t provide data, then that justifies your use of a bad report?


          9. I’m focused on the bottom line: would it be cheaper to add HSR to the mix or do with more of the same.

            Until someone provides better cost estimates than this “bad” report, they are the best offered here. I would prefer better estimates, which is why I asked if you have any.

            You seem to think the entire report should be disregarded because you think one section is very flawed. Yet, even if you are correct about that section, the remaining cost estimates lead to the same conclusion.

            FWIW, I certainly agree we should doubt all these estimates and question them. That goes for good and bad reports, and their better and worse parts. Same with my posts and yours.

            All the parts of “the whole thing” should always be in question, regardless of whether “the premise of a significant part of the report is flawed” or not.

    3. Plus since airplanes run on fossil fuels which will become increasingly scarce, the basic operating expenses will increase over time. HSR runs on electricity generated from a much more diverse sources and will be exposed less to energy price increases.

      HSR may not be ideal but it is far better than the alternatives.

  32. Milkshake, you’re right about aircraft depending on fossil fuels, but the people in the central valley that are trying to stop HSR are the same kinds of people who get together at Sarah Palin rallies and chant “Drill, baby, drill!”.

    They don’t think that fossil fuels will become increasingly scarce, because “the magic of the marketplace” will create new and better techniques for oil extraction (like hydraulic fracturing) as the price increases, increasing supply and subsequently lowering prices for refined fuels. Yes, I have had central valley-dwelling right wingers shout this at me.

    I think a more effective argument against further, future dependency on planes for mid- and short-haul travel (and I call SFO to LAX, short-haul) is that passenger jets are a major source of potentially harmful pollution. From today’s Los Angeles Times, Planes’ exhaust could be harming communities up to 10 miles from LAX, opening ‘graphs:

    High levels of potentially harmful exhaust particles from jets using Los Angeles International Airport have been detected in a broad swath of densely populated communities up to 10 miles east of the runways, a new air quality study reported Thursday.The research, believed to be the most comprehensive of its type, found that takeoffs and landings at LAX are a major source of ultrafine particles. They are being emitted over a larger area than previously thought, the study states, and in amounts about equal in magnitude to those from a large portion of the county’s freeways.It further concludes that areas affected by aircraft exhaust at major airports in the U.S. and other parts of the world might have been seriously underestimated.

    Emphasis added.

    Now, I don’t think the right wingers will accept that reducing ultrafine particle emission is a good reason to build a high speed rail system, but perhaps pollution from planes will be a good cause of action for future environmental lawsuits to thwart expansion of airports in populated areas, thus making HSR more viable as a transportation option.

  33. I acutally agree with Newsom, we need WATER not trains right now. (See quote below)

    Don’t the majority of travellers between the Bay Area and Southern California drive, where did all this aircraft talk come from? As for “fossil fuels”, was HSR going to be powered by Solar or Wind? Wouldn’t the trains AND ALL OF THE CONSTRUCTION use fossil fuels as well?

    For the record, I am very liberal and would not know where a Sarah Palin rally was, but I want to see a plan and NEW budget for the HSR system I voted for, not a slow blended system that would take decades to finish. BTW- many of the poeple now against HSR are against not because it is not “green” or “good” but because it is not going to deliver what was promised, but this falls on deaf ears as facts are not allowed when it comes to the updated forecast travel times of the new blended system trains. Gavin Newsom is not a Sarah Palin rally participant. One can be emotionally for HSR, but that is no longer the system being proposed.

    “”We were selling a $32 billion project then, and we were going to get roughly one-third from the federal government and the private sector,” he said. “We’re not even close to the timeline (for the project), we’re not close to the total cost estimates, and the private sector money and the federal dollars are questionable.”

    Water a bigger issue

    Newsom said the state has more pressing problems, such as “the issue that will define our time” – water.

    Instead of focusing on high-speed rail, the drought underscores that the ability to store and transport enough water to go around is “not a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a must-have,” Newsom said. (SFGate)

    1. Nice diversion there. Can’t form a reasonable argument against HSR? Then divert attention to water instead. And oh yeah, water just so happens to be a hot issue in the central valley right now as well. Maybe you’ve got a location-specific agenda there. HSR is a statewide project.

      Yeah, the construction phase will burn petroleum but it is transient. Once the system is built out we can get centuries of use out of it, burning no petroleum if that makes the most sense, something that air travel cannot do.

      There are many ways to create electricity. If oil is the cheapest today then use oil. If tomorrow brings a cheaper way to generate power from hot air generated by political pundits, then use that as well. But if your transport system is locked into a single energy source then it is at the whims of that specific narrow market.

      I’m not happy about the politically induced HSR cost overruns either though that isn’t a good reason to kill the project. Fix it instead.

  34. Well it doesn’t surprise me that Gavin Newsom, the the quintessential political opportunist, would put forward an argument like that. He should obviously go back to Santa Clara and re-take critical thinking, because that’s a classic false dichotomy fallacy.

    Water infrastructure improvements don’t obviate the need for transportation improvements. The funding already approved for HSR can’t, legally, be used for Water infrastructure, so the implicit claim that pursuing HSR will deny funding for water projects is completely illogical, I guess that’s why he doesn’t say so outright.

    And who said anyone was “focused on high speed rail”? The governor has proposals out there for dealing with the water situation and the drought, he isn’t ignoring it in favor of high speed rail. The current drought will be over someday when winter precipitation returns to normal. On the other hand, nature isn’t going to resolve our transportation issues, we have do handle that ourselves, and HSR will help.

    Trying to argumentatively divert attention from that with spurious arguments doesn’t help. But I guess it makes those who are emotionally opposed to high speed rail because they think if it ever comes into being it will be a threat to their car-dependent lifestyles feel better.

  35. Could someone explain why HSR would not run on fossil fuels? Is non fossil fuel energy supply for the HSR network part of the plan? Could someone show me where?
    BTW- water is no diversion on my part, just quoting Newsom. Newsom calls it correctly, the trains will cost at least 3 or 4 times the budget voters voted on and the majority will run at speeds 1/3 of what voters were told. If the blended rail network on average takes 4 to 5 hours to get to L.A. I am better off driving since you have to include transit to Transbay and renting a car in Southern California.

    1. I think renewable energy infrastructure is funded separately. Whether the energy is renewable or not is almost completely irrelevant at this point. Looking ahead 50 years, a large percentage of the energy used will be renewable, and this will feed seamlessly into the (then-) existing HSR system.

  36. You all just don’t get it. The project was changed and it is no longer “high speed” rail. I know all about HSR as I have lived car free in Europe and have travelled on the Shinkansen in Japan. But I will let one of the original planners of HSR speak for himself…..

    ” I have been involved with the planning and implementation of a California high speed train system since 1992, and served as a member of the California High Speed Rail Authority (“Authority”) from June 2006 until March 2011.. I initiated the legislative action to establish high speed rail (“HSR”) in California with a bill creating the HSR Commission.”

    “In my opinion, the HSR project, as it evolved in the 2012 Authority’s Business Plan, is NO LONGER A GENUINE HSR SYSTEM, as covenanted to California voters and the Legislature. Instead, it has been distorted in a way directly contrary to the high speed rail plan the Authority attempted to implement while I was Chairman, namely, a true HSR system containing all the features, terms and protections desired by the Legislature.”


    I would be for HSR even at new forecast costs if it was high speed and not the new slow mega stops blended plan. To get people out of their cars and off of lower fare cost airplanes the trains would have to be travelling at the speeds originally forecast for voters, not the new 4, 5 or 6 hour travel estimates (depending on which source you read)

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