Californians Say No to High Speed Rail
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  • thibaud

    High speed rail between San Francisco and San Jose/Silicon Valley would be welcome.

    There’s a huge loss to productivity, hence revenue, hence tax revenues, from the hours that are wasted in traffic-clogged highways that haven’t been expanded in over 20 years – despite a huge increase in the population and in economic activity.

    However, the biggest obstacle to fast rail between SF and SJ is the mall owners in San Mateo and Palo Alto.

    Pity that Mr Mead doesn’t focus on the real barriers to progress, which are regulatory capture artists of all sorts – private enterprise rent-seekers as well as public union hacks.

  • John Minehan

    Rail, even “high speed rail” is slower than car or air travel over a distance and that matters in the USA. Passenger rail is at best a niche in the USA, unless gas prices get MUCH higher.

  • WigWag

    Got it; California voters are fickle. They were for high speed rail before they were against it. Four years ago they voted for it; now they oppose it. Will they be for or against high speed rail two years from now? How about five years from now? What about a decade from now.

    Voters change their minds; often quite regularly. Sometimes they support Republicans; sometimes they vote for Democrats. Sometimes they are so ambivalent that they select a candidate randomly or don’t vote at all.

    What exactly is the point of this post? Does it have a valid point to make at all?

  • Otis McWrong

    Thibaud, you should make a habit of becoming knowledgeable about a topic before opining.
    San Jose/San Francisco has rail that is about as high speed as it’s ever going to get: Caltrain. The expresses (aka Baby Bullet) which run every ½ hour or so during rush hour go from downtown San Jose to San Fran in 57 minutes. Not bad considering it’s about 50 miles. If going from San Jose to San Fran in under an hour doesn’t work for you, perhaps you should consider a shorter commute than FIFTY MILES. They’re clean, comfortable, and with wi-fi the whole way. Caltrain runs on time (except for the periodic occasions when a bum..err homeless person wanders onto the tracks and gets run over).

    I lived in San Francisco and San Mateo for many years, rode Caltrain to work regularly, and visit there frequently, follow the Caltrain politics closely and have never once heard of “mall owners” being the obstacle to anything. One challenge facing Caltrain is enviro-weenie handwringing over the diesel-electric locomotives and wanting them all electric. But of course the power lines/grids aren’t in place and Union Pacific which owns and maintains the tracks has no motive to add them and the state has no money. This gets to the heart of liberal thinking by the way: hate cars (driven by other people) and want a train. So now there is a train. Now we want the train to make less smoke. We’re okay if the smoke comes from some elsewhere-located electric plant but reserve the right to protest against that plant and the evil corporation that owns it.

    The objection to the “high speed rail” coming from San Mateo/San Jose is from people who don’t want trains on street level tracks zipping through their town centers at 100+ mph – which is reasonable. Have you ever actually been to downtown San Mateo or Millbrae or Burlingame or San Carlos or Redwood City or Palo Alto or any other peninsula town? Small towns with lots of restaurants and stores and that happen to have train tracks running through the middle of them. Lots of people walking and driving across the tracks. Caltrain at 40mph with lots of warning and lights flashing and gates lowering is one thing…some lefty fantasy train at 100+ mph with the few people willing to spend 2x what a plane ticket costs riding it is something else.

    In case you wondered, yes I voted against the magic train. I had and have lots of business in LA and always thought it more convenient to take one of the billion flights per day between the two cities.

  • thibaud

    McWrong – yes, I live and have lived in several of the towns that CalTrain runs through.

    You’re probably right that my information on the source of the opposition is out of date – thanks for the correction. (I recall that, back in the day, the fiercest opposition to BART came from the owner of San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center, who thought all the traffic would pass him by on the way to downtown SF.)

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