Meanwhile, in California

7 Jul

A proposition

The proposal to build an 800-mile system of 200-mph trains linking Southern and Northern California, by way of the Valley, has made a great deal of sense throughout its two-decade gestation. Proposition 1, the $9.95 billion bond measure, is the necessary first step.

High-speed rail will be an engine of economic development that we badly need in this state, creating tens of thousands of jobs in both its construction and its operation.

It will have a dramatic impact on our environment, removing thousands of cars from California’s highways. Less congestion will make the remaining vehicles more efficient for those that remain on the road. Conservative estimates suggest millions of barrels of oil could be saved annually, and as much as 22 billion pounds of carbon dioxide kept out of the atmosphere.

The rail system would also reduce the need for many short- and medium-haul airline flights, which pollute the atmosphere at an astonishing rate.

Now, with gasoline at $4.50 a gallon and rising, high-speed rail is no longer just a good idea. It’s imperative.

High speed rail with Buffalo as a hub connecting Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Albany/Boston/New York would be a pretty dandy thing now in the days of $4.50/gallon gas, hourlong TSA lines, and Amtrak dreck-o-rama.

16 Responses to “Meanwhile, in California”

  1. Christopher July 7, 2008 at 7:31 am #

    As a native Californian born and raised in the Bay Area, I remember the bold and innovative calls for a highspeed Japanese Bullet-like train to run between San Francisco and Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

    The drive time from the Bay Area to the San Fernanso Valley is about 6 hours if you maintain 70MPH. Flying time is less than an hour.

    But like so many other things, there was no leadership for such a scheme and Big Oil donated money to politicians who opposed the idea of highspeed rail between the Bay Area and the Southland and Vegas. Imagine how much further along we would be if the project had been built?

    BTW, OPEC today said there is no end in sight to rising gas prices as the value of the dollar continues to tank thanks to Bush’s $12 billion a month Iraq war paid for on credit and geopolitical language of a war between the USA and Iran.

    If oil reaches $200 a berrel as OPEC is predicting, we can expect to see $7.50 a gallon at the pump.

  2. al-alo July 7, 2008 at 7:47 am #

    nys does have the high sped rail task force (see: ). not that they are breaking any speed records themselves. but they do exist.

    Ohio seems to be coming along with their network with an eventual connection to Bflo (see: ).

    in any case, a NYS system could cost considerably less to build a moderatly high speed system.

    the old NY Central was quadruple tracked from NYC to Buffalo, with the right-of-way being generally without grade and fairly straight. in fact, it was near Batavia that the land speed record was broken in 1893. engine 999 managed to get up to 112 mph. guess what? Amtrak doesnt get close to that more than a century later.

    simple tested upgrades and additional track could greatly increase speeds and reliability. all we need is some more political will.

  3. Mike In WNY July 7, 2008 at 10:23 am #

    The only way to know if high speed rail is an economically good solution is to get the government out of the picture and let the market work. Rising gas prices will naturally lead to a number of possible solutions, without government waste. Products manufactured from petroleum will be replaced by other methods (plastics, etc.). People will conserve. More money will be available for drilling and exploration (assuming we can get by the tree-huggers to extract the oil). The list of possible solutions is huge. There is plenty of oil available for drilling. As technology improves, the cost of drilling in areas that were too costly will come down.

  4. Stan P July 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm #


    Letting the “Market” work is what got us into this mess. Government needs to anticipate and develop an energy policy and action plan. Otherwise, as we have seen with our US car companies, the focus is on the bottom line today and let the future be damned. We are now paying the price for shortsighted immediate profits.

    Despite what all these wishful thinkers say, there is not “plenty of oil” left. True, we can get more as the price goes up by using more expensive recovery methods, but unless you are wealthy Mike, plan to saddle up your horse and buy a plow to support your family, because only a select few in the US will be able to keep up with a global market where our competitors manipulate the marketplace to their own advantage, and they hold all the chips in the energy game.

  5. Mike In WNY July 7, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    Government anticipation is why we haven’t developed the huge oil reserves available to us. Government anticipation is why tax dollars are supporting ethanol; an alternative worse than oil in terms of cost and pollution. Government anticipation is why the sinking value of the U.S. dollar is one of the prime causes of our increase in gasoline prices.

    You can keep your government anticipation, it has already cost too much.

  6. hank July 7, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    It’s Damn difficult for Mike Rebmann and I to be on the same page on ANYTHING.

    But This
    Government anticipation is why we haven’t developed the huge oil reserves available to us. Government anticipation is why tax dollars are supporting ethanol; an alternative worse than oil in terms of cost and pollution. Government anticipation is why the sinking value of the U.S. dollar is one of the prime causes of our increase in gasoline prices.

    Drove the nail home with one stroke.

    Stan P said:Letting the “Market” work is what got us into this mess.

    Hey Stash–can I get a baggie of that stuff you’re smoking? Or have you just never ventured out of Western NY?

  7. Colin July 7, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    There is no “market” when it comes to transportation. It all exists — planes, cars, trains — because of massive government intervention. The question is whether that intervention should be more rail-oriented. I say yes.

  8. Chris July 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    I’d love to just convince MegaBus to connect Buffalo to Cleveland. That would open Buffalo bus riders to the midwest options available from MegaBus (Chicago, Kansas City, etc.), and the midwest riders to the eastern options (NYC, Toronto, D.C., etc.). I sent them an email yesterday and we’ll see if they respond.

    I realize it isn’t as glamorous as high speed rail, but it would definitely be a good start, yes?

  9. Mike July 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    High speed rail between Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo? Great idea, whats you next post mono-rail?

  10. Buffalopundit July 7, 2008 at 3:57 pm #

    I’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrooke, and by gum, it put them on the map!

  11. Timothy Domst July 7, 2008 at 7:25 pm #

    Even Amtrak DreckORama would be acceptable if it were fast.

  12. Denizen July 7, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    America currently has a passenger railroad system the Bulgarians would be ashamed of.

    Last time I rode Amtrak it took me 9 hours to get from Buffalo to NYC (typically a 7 hour car ride). The fact that much of the trackage between Bflo and Albany is ONE FUCKING TRACK is just piss poor and downright inexcusable. On top of that, CSX owns the tracks so when a freight train needs to pass it gets first dibs on the one track, forcing the Amtrak train to sit aside and wait 30 minutes for each freight train to pass.

    The time is NOW to start rebuilding tracks. The ROWs can support multiple tracks, they just need to be re-installed. Forget even worry about HSR at this point, I’d be happy having 80mph train connecting 50-500 mile journeys between major cities.

    There is no fucking way our country will be able to run the interstate highway system and today’s airline clusterfuck on $8/gallon gas. Choo Choo is the way to go right now!

  13. Denizen July 7, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    Also, let’s discard the notion that a rebuilt passenger rail system would have to be Amtrak. Govt’s job should be to build the infrastructure (just like it did the interstate highways and airports, runways, ect.)and let private operators run the trains; just like how it works so wonderfully in Europe and Asia.

  14. al-alo July 7, 2008 at 11:27 pm #


    were you kidding about that last one? almost all of Europe’s rail systems are state owned. of course, there is Great Britain. and we all know how well that has been working out.

    in Japan, S. Korea, etc it is true that is many of their operations are for profit, and on time and fast. however, could that be a result of the influences of government, society and people and not of an economic model? lets face it, privately run airlines are not exactly doing a bang up job in this country. about the last thing im willing to do is concede another transportation segment to the private sector.

    it seems to me that the private sector is what is holding back Amtrak. as you note, CSX (and many others) cause unacceptable delays across the American passenger system. what is the logic of hand over the entire system to them? or for that matter, what better access could another passenger operator get out of the freight railroads that Amtrak cannot?

  15. Ben McD July 8, 2008 at 2:07 am #

    “Letting the “Market” work is what got us into this mess. ”

    Please Stan, explain.

  16. Denizen July 9, 2008 at 1:38 am #

    al-alo, please read my first post. All new infrastructure would have to (publicly) be built before the scenario in my second comment could even conceivably happen.

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