eNewsletter for February 24, 2014 February 28th, 2014
Cities on the Southwest Chief line want state support Dodge City Daily Globe-Feb 20, 2014 The loss of the Southwest Chief passenger rail line would cause a substantial disruption and loss of jobs, said representatives from cities facing an end-of-year deadline to secure a plan to improve or lose the line…About 5,000 passengers per year use the depot in Dodge City despite the eastbound train arriving just after midnight and the westbound at 5 a.m. Another 7,000 use the line from Garden City. About 250,000 people ride the line each year.
eNewsletter for February 18, 2014 February 20th, 2014
As things stand there is $9.95 Billion dollars in Bonds for High Speed Rail as well as $3.4 Billion from the Federal Government. From the Bond money $1.9 billion is for projects outside of the San Joaquin Valley including transit projects, positive train control and track upgrades to existing rail services. The Cap and Trade funding the Governor is talking about for High Speed Rail would go towards the $10 billion needed to extend track construction south of Bakersfield to Palmdale and “bridge the gap” between Northern and Southern California by passenger rail. There is $4 billion left for this in the Bond money which leaves $6 billion that might come from Cap and Trade. So what would happen if we cancel the High Speed Rail Project tomorrow? We would throw away the Federal Funding for starters. The Bond money would be gone too. NB
eNewsletter for February 10, 2014 February 14th, 2014
RailPAC for the record is non-partisan. Before 2009, High Speed Rail and transportation in general were also non-partisan issues. The bill creating the California High Speed Rail Authority was signed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Prop 1A with the bond money for the High Speed Rail Project was put on the 2008 ballot by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Federal Program for funding High Speed Rail nationally had been around long before 2009 and most of the planning for it was done during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Strong supporters in 2008 for High Speed Rail projects in their States were the then Republican Governors of Wisconsin and Florida.
eNewsletter for February 3, 2014 February 7th, 2014
There are many places that would benefit from extended rail service. The limiting factor as always is funding. The 8.5 mile Crenshaw Line is costing 2 Billion dollars. What would greatly improve this line as a service would be to extend it south of Imperial Highway on the existing Green Line. In the future this could be extended to Torrance. To the north if the Crenshaw Line were extended west on the Expo Line it could serve more of the Westside for travel to LAX and reduce traffic on the I-405 freeway. This won’t be easy now to do since the Crenshaw Line will go under the Expo Line. Instead passenger are expected to transfer at the joint station at different levels. NB
eNewsletter for January 27, 2014 January 31st, 2014
Amtrak was in trouble because of growing deficits by 1978 which had grown to $578 million dollars. Based on the then RPS accounting, to save money Amtrak cut 4 long distance trains in 1979. Instead of saving money and reducing the deficit which RPS predicted, Amtrak’s deficit rose to $729 million by 1981. It was shortly after this time that Mr. Claytor took over at Amtrak. To keep the Reagan Administration from eliminating Amtrak , Claytor had to make major progress in reducing its deficit. To do this Claytor ignored RPS and expanded Amtrak’s Long Distance service. Mr. Claytor was quoted about how he was reducing Amtrak’s deficit. “That is one of the ways we hope to reach it and to get additional equipment in order to increase our revenues faster than our costs. That spread is what counts… We have more people wanting to go than we can carry, because we do not have the capacity . The first priority is to get more capacity on the routes we serve. The second priority will be to start new routes that we think have a good possibility of working.” – Interview with Graham Claytor, Trains magazine, June 1991
eNewsletter for January 21, 2014 January 24th, 2014
There is talk that Amtrak is planning to soon eliminate the Pacific Parlour Cars on the Coast Starlight. The rational behind this is to save money by eliminating one attendant on board. That attendant sells alcohol. How Amtrak is able to lose money selling alcohol is a mystery to me. Also on the Coast Starlight the fares for the Sleeping Cars remain high. But at least on some dates this winter there have been vacant sleepers. It seems odd that Amtrak doesn’t lower prices before departure time to insure more of the sleeper space is sold. As if things couldn’t get worse for the Empire Builder: they are. Seems Amtrak is giving up keeping connections for the Builder in the face of current poor on-time performance. This includes eliminating connecting buses for the passengers on the Builder to make connections when the Builder is late. NB
eNewsletter for January 13, 2014 January 17th, 2014
Despite the often misleading headlines about the court’s rulings, it doesn’t shut down the (CA-HSR) project or ask for a funding plan for the entire project. Current construction in the San Joaquin Valley is about 6 billion dollars. To build a new right of way between Bakersfield and Palmdale is estimated to cost 10 billion dollars. Four billion of that is expected to come from Prop 1A bonds. With Prop 1A and Federal funding that’s 13 billion dollars that should be available now for High Speed Rail. To finish the entire 300 miles between Merced and Burbank to run electrified HSR will require an additional 18 billion for a total of 31 billion dollars. With the State’s Budget in the black with over 100 billion dollars of spending annually, spreading $18 Billion dollars of additional funding to complete High Rail over 10 years or more is feasible. Once the 300 miles of HSR (some of it “blended” with existing railroads) is built, the CHSRA is on its own according to Prop 1A to finance the rest of the project from its own revenues. NB
eNewsletter for January 6, 2014 January 10th, 2014
When some people hear about plans to build a major stadium depending on rail transit; the first thing they complain about is people won’t take the trains and there won’t be enough parking. These were the same complaints when PETCO Park was built in San Diego. Parking is limited in this part of San Diego. I have lived in San Diego County for about 25 years. I remember the opposition to PETCO Park because of its location and limited parking. Parking has never been a problem at PETCO Park. I remember that after the first baseball season at PETCO Park which set attendance records compared to the recent past, it was found that there was in fact surplus parking all baseball season long with Trolley and Coaster ridership higher than expected.
eNewsletter for December 30, 2013 January 3rd, 2014
The Peak Oil Crisis: California’s Bubble Pops Falls Church News Press-Dec 11, 2013 Rapid increases in production, however, mean that the faster we use up something the sooner will come the day when production starts to decline and that may not be very far away…As the U.S. burns about 7 billion barrels of oil a year we have at least a three-year supply of shale oil – if we can get it out of the ground. Interestingly, the government’s contractor reported that some 15.4 billion barrels of this shale oil were buried under California while only 3.6 billion was in North Dakota and 3.4 billion in south Texas. The rest was sort of scattered around.
eNewsletter for December 23, 2013 December 27th, 2013
Expo Line leads to drop in driving USC News-Dec 16, 2013 Los Angeles residents who live near a Metro Expo Line station on Exposition Boulevard reduced the number of miles they drove and tripled their rail ridership since the rail line opened last year, according to a new USC study.