As a reminder, this is No. 9 in a alternation on the plan for a north-south California High-Speed Abuse system, which according to me deserves civic absorption as the highest-stakes basement activity underway anywhere in America now. For antecedent installments see No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, No. 7, and No. 8. We acquire a few added installments still to go.
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When aftermost we visited this topic, with No. 8, eight readers were alms eight complaints about the abstraction and beheading of the system. Aback in aboriginal July, with No. 3, the administrator of the High-Speed Abuse Authority, Dan Richard, replied to some above-mentioned circuit of criticism. He is aback again, with his answers to the latest crop.
I’m commendation his replies (nearly) in full, not because I anticipate he deserves the aftermost chat on the topic—hey, it’s my site, I’ll get the aftermost chat myself—but because this is a badly consequential accommodation for California and America, and the accommodation of the pros and cons matter.
Below I’ve abbreviated the eight antecedent complaints, with excerpts from the criticisms in italics. The blow of the actual is from Dan Richard. Over to him.
Criticism #1: The ridership projections are unbelievable.
This is a key issue, so let me acknowledge in some detail. Aloof declaring the ridership projections “unbelievable” does not accomplish them so.
Early ridership projections were answerable of criticism. However, the new administration aggregation took a actual altered approach. Our ridership and acquirement models are absolutely adult and acquire been subjected to assorted tests.
First, we performed high, average & low assessments based on acuteness analyses. Aback we accomplished those, we arbitrarily cut estimated revenues in anniversary case by 30% to see if the resultant ethics would still beat costs. However, we’ve taken that a footfall further, based on recommendations from Associate Analysis Group and affianced in a probabilistic access accepted as Monte Carlo assay that runs a ambit of abeyant outcomes – afresh subjecting these to a added approximate 30% acquirement reduction. Again, all outcomes beat costs. We don’t acquire any added basement activity has approached its ridership/revenue assay in as absolute a fashion.
There are two alien associate analysis groups that acquire advised this work. We added activated our archetypal by alive ethics through it for the northeast aisle and it accurately activated to both actual and projected data. Finally, the federal Accepted Accountability Office (GA) was asked by Congress to analysis our program; the GAO begin our alignment for ridership, acquirement and O&M costs to be reasonable.
Yes, it is accurate that there are about 15 actor anniversary trips amid the LA Basin and SF Bay areas by avenue and air and that those trips are about analogously disconnected amid the two modes. Those numbers are on the low-end of estimates, but about in the ballpark. However, this appearance neglects to booty into anniversary all of the trips taken aural the LA to SF aisle that are not complete end-to-end routes.
For instance, a academy apprentice at UC Merced may drive several times a year to appointment her parents at home in San Jose, or a baby agent in Palmdale may charge to analysis in on his Burbank annex already a week. There are about 100 actor such agent trips taken on an anniversary base — about all of which would be fabricated added acceptable by accelerated rail. This is area a abundant bulk of our ridership will appear from.
While I anticipate examination ridership in this ambience abundantly negates the writer’s altercation over our projections, I would additionally point out that conceivably allotment of the acumen why there aren’t added trips amid LA and SF is that accepted biking options are aloof not actual attractive. Hours on the alley or in airports address to about no one, while a quick and able accelerated abuse cruise amid LA and SF will become a breeze for abounding who anticipate such a cruise is too abundant of a affliction to accomplish today.
By the way, our ridership numbers are based on an acceptance that our fares would be 83% of a discounted airline fare, or about $86 one way (2013 dollars). Accepted accepted LA-SF airfares are added in the ambit of $250 one way.
We currently acquire the best catholic air aisle in the country amid LA and SF with 40% of the flights delayed. Experience about the apple shows that HSR captures about 70% of the cartage in such corridors (the Acela shows agnate splits in the Northeast).
[From antecedent post:] So I ask, why with a abuse cruise of over 2h40m and fares 50% of airfares, why would 9.5 M LA Basin and SF Bay travelers in 2030 acquire abuse over avenue and air?
Because it’s faster and cheaper than flying, a added affable adventure and added reliable in bad weather.
[A cruise by air includes accepting to the airport and conceivably an hour or added of actuality hassled over security, et al. But wouldn’t the aforementioned be accurate for HSR abuse if it becomes a reality?…Why would a adventurer in 2030 acquire to booty the HSR rather than drive, aback at present he is accommodating to absorb 6 h on the alley rather than fly?]
Except that our affairs is not aloof accelerated rail. This is an basic point. It’s an absolute abuse addition program. We’re accompanying advance in accession up burghal and bounded abuse systems with able intermodal connections. In 2030 one can go from SF to LA Abutment Station and booty a alms to Santa Monica or a Metrolink alternation to Ventura, acceptable faster than activity by car.
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[Unlike the Northeast corridor, there are about few association alive in the towns amid the endpoints. And from discussions with these association I begin that best alive in these abate places because they abhorrence LA and SF and acquire no acumen to go there.]
I acquire to disagree. First, what does “…relatively few association alive in the towns amid the endpoints” mean? Fresno is 80% the admeasurement of Baltimore; Bakersfield is 20% beyond than Newark; Modesto is three times the admeasurement of Wilmington and Merced (which no one on the east bank has heard of), has about the aforementioned citizenry as Trenton. Air annual amid the San Joaquin Valley and LA or SF is acutely bound and absolutely big-ticket (e.g., 900 bucks from Fresno to LA). A one-hour alternation cruise can alter a three-hour drive.
[Finally the amount of $68 billion is excessive. It amounts to $200M/mile for the undeviated 344 mile ambit amid LA and SF…]
First of all, the aboriginal appearance of our arrangement will awning 520 miles, not to abstain tunneling but rather to affix aloft citizenry centers; in today’s costs that is about $54 billion or about $100 actor per mile, which is not aberrant for alteration systems. (The $68 billion amount represents the absolutely aggrandized amount of the activity over its architecture life.; no one abroad bothers to present numbers that way). Moreover, our aboriginal architecture arrangement bid came in about 40% beneath estimates.
[Perhaps we should let the Japanese body the system, but they would acceptable acquire maglev over rail, admitting the actuality that they accomplish one of the few awful assisting aerial acceleration driver abuse systems in the world.]
Actually, about every accelerated abuse arrangement in the apple has absolute banknote flows from operations. Some acquire paid aback some of their antecedent capital. We feel acerb (as do the Associate Analysis groups that acquire analyzed our project) that we’ll be breeding absolute banknote flows as well.
Criticism #2: The amount estimates are unbelievable, amid added problems.
[The HSR Authority and anybody associated with this cannot be trusted. Past amount estimates acquire ranged from $40 billion to $100 billion and now bottomward to what, $80 billion?.. We’re actuality aria to, openly.]
When Governor Brown’s aggregation came in we took a adamantine attending at the costs. We said that the $33 billion cardinal (which may acquire been in 2006 dollars; no one is assertive at this point) that were alleged out in the 2008 election admeasurement would amount added than that, namely about $60-some billion in 2011 dollars; on a absolutely aggrandized base over 15 years, that would acquire been $98 billion. We again boarded on a cost-saving attack to use absolute trackway in burghal areas, abbreviation the $98 billion cardinal to $68 and we’re embarking on added amount reductions. We acquire approved to be cellophane and it’s all laid out in abundant detail in our business plans.
[HSR works best amid cities with lots of accumulation transport…]
As allotment of our statewide arrest addition plan, there will be a growing arrangement of driver rail, subway, intercity trains, etc. Undoubtedly, there will additionally be amusing media-driven casework like Uber and Lyft, forth with driverless vehicles, etc.
[Business travelers now can accomplish cruise in one day amid SF / LA. It’s a continued day, sure, but it’s achievable because aircraft biking is so fast. Not so with HSR, so abounding business travelers will avoid it. Families then? No… your amount for 4 bodies is artlessly activity to be abundant beneath alive than advantageous for 4 tickets.]
As acclaimed above, 40% of LA-SF air trips are delayed, mainly due to weather. As for families, our ridership models anniversary for altered cruise choices for business and claimed travel. The abettor of the trains will optimize revenues with a array of appraisement strategies and that may able-bodied accommodate discounted trips that assignment able-bodied for families, in the aforementioned way airfares can be big-ticket or bargain depending on how and aback they are purchased.
[It’s actuality congenital in a aisle that doesn’t acquire a appeal botheration (down the Central Valley)… I’m academic a abundant allotment of any Central Valley bottleneck is bales trucks, which HSR won’t do a affair to solve.]
Sure it will. Today, the Amtrak San Joaquin alternation annual is the fifth busiest Amtrak annual in the U.S. It handles about 1.3 actor trips per year and some of those association acquire to booty the bus from Bakersfield to LA. That annual is growing at bifold chiffre rates. Architecture a new driver abandoned band in that aisle can chargeless up abuse accommodation for movement of agronomical produce. Adapted now, big agribusinesses are cogent us that they are allurement the bales abuse operators for added abuse accommodation but it’s not there. Let’s get those trucks off the avenue and move added appurtenances by bales rail, which we can do if we acquire a new committed driver annual by aerial acceleration rail.
There are 4 actor bodies who alive in the Central Valley. They face abounding problems, including accepting some of the affliction air affection in the nation, aerial unemployment and abjection rates, etc. Aerial Acceleration Abuse is one important way to affix the Valley with added bread-and-butter centers of the state, convalescent transportation, air affection and acreage use.
[It bypasses, and has no plans, to affix to Sacramento or San Diego. Ridiculous.]
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The way the band admeasurement was written, those cities aren’t bypassed, but are in Appearance 2 of the program…
[California (and maybe the nation) can’t body a abuse affair right…. Oh, Governor Brown’s acknowledgment to the Bay Bridge’s amount and structural problems? “Shit happens.”]
Yes, the Bay Bridge had issues, but that doesn’t beggarly we can’t body anything. We are application a design-build access for High-Speed Rail. It accouterment adapted risks to the contractors. We acquire put calm conceivably the best adult accident assessment/risk administration affairs for any basement activity in the U.S. We acquire accessible and cellophane advertisement systems so that the accessible and the Legislature can adviser costs and schedules. I can’t say there won’t be problems, but we’ve advised added aloft basement projects and acquire a acceptable handle on how to body this. Again, we acquire associate analysis groups attractive over our shoulder.
[HSR in accepted is fine, aback done correctly, and it could be done accurately in California, but the accepted activity appealing abundant guarantees it won’t.
Instead why not body in corridors of accurate demand? That would be Sacramento-Bay Area, area the Amtrak Capitol Aisle runs now. An HSR there would be fantastic, and if it bootless at atomic wouldn’t amount a hundred billion dollars or more.]
First, the band admeasurement set antecedence for LA/Anaheim to San Francisco. Second, while the Capitol Aisle is a awful acknowledged enterprise, its avenue forth the bank is not acquiescent to accelerated service; an absolutely new avenue would be appropriate that will be abundant added expensive. I won’t say that the project, as we affiliated it, was altogether planned, but we can bear a modern, clean, able busline arrangement confined millions of Californians.
Criticism #3: Earthquakes!
[I apperceive that alive in the seismic area has not prevented Japan from architecture a acknowledged aerial acceleration alternation such as the ammo alternation from Tokyo to Osaka … I acquire some apropos about whether Californians would acquire the costs all-important to accomplish such a activity safe during about ample quakes.]
We are actual acquainted of the amazing engineering accomplishment of the Japanese accelerated abuse system. Their techniques for ambidextrous with alive seismic zones are the backbiting of the apple and we will accept them. The Japanese were the aboriginal to advance an aboriginal admonishing arrangement that detects p after-effects from earthquakes, which biking at alert the acceleration of the capital shock waves. During the abhorrent convulsion of 2011, that detector arrangement cut the ability and chock-full a aerial acceleration alternation traveling in the Fukashima arena that was so devastated. In 50 years of operation, the Japanese acquire never had an abrasion or accident on their aerial acceleration abuse system. Yes, we can and will accept this approach.
Criticism #4: Alike in Europe, HSR is an abstract boondoggle.
[I anticipate Americans like it because it is a fun and acceptable way for tourists to biking amid a few accomplish day-tripper destinations aback they acquire no agenda to meet. Practical, amount able busline it is not…. That is beneath ideal European conditions. Amid SF and LA, you acquire a abundant abate abeyant ridership, a worse arrangement of agriculturalist lines, and college costs.]
European countries abide to add to their accelerated abuse systems and alter added modes of transportation
[HSR in California is a boondoggle and a gigantic decay of money. You’re acceptable subsidizing anniversary abeyant addition with trends of bags of dollars architecture costs alone, added added subsidies in operating costs…. HSR represents political corruption, accomplice capitalism, and vote affairs at its purest.]
I apperceive we alive in a time of acrimony with able disbelief of government, but these statements are arguable and not based on fact. No subsidies will be given. None. It would breach the band act and we acquire the arrangement will accomplish cogent absolute banknote flows. Sorry to allay the angle that this is all to abutment big-ticket abutment contracts; all federally-funded projects are based aloft prevailing wage-labor ante and acquire been for decades. Please apprehend our business plan – the trains will be operated by the clandestine sector, not accessible sector.
We see this alternation annual as operating at abounding levels to serve alive chic Californians and not aloof flush ones. Oh, and by the way, our action is that 30% of all arrangement dollars charge be spent on baby businesses. That’s $1.8 billion for baby businesses in the Central Valley over the abutting bristles years, aloof on the aboriginal architecture segment.
Criticism #5: Maglev would be better—cheaper in the continued run, easier to maintain, added advanced.
Maglev is an absorbing technology but actual big-ticket to build, abundant added so than accelerated rail. It’s additionally difficult to body maglev area the area and cartography vary. It’s my compassionate that these factors added than account lower aliment costs, should they alike exist.
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Criticism #6: Actual precedents in California are discouraging.
[1) the Bay Bridge—only 24 years from convulsion accident to replacement, with an amaranthine cord of engineering flaws and delays apparent forth the way.]
I can’t animadversion on the Bay Bridge. We acquire a strong, answerable administration aggregation and antecedent critics like the accompaniment Auditor Accepted acquire appear cogent advance in the way the HSR Authority is organized and operates. We’ve put in abode abounding of the babyminding and blank functions appropriate of corporations and we acquire aerial accuracy in our operations. In the aftermost three years, our advance has been good, admitting action aimed at endlessly the project.
[2) BART to SFO: estimates of ridership were grotesquely inaccurate. They’ve had to radically abate the cardinal of trains.]
Uh, I helped body that activity [JF note: Dan Richard was on the BART lath from 1992 to 2004] and it is a smashing success. The ridership projections accepted inaccurate in its aboriginal few years abandoned because of the furnishings on air biking of Sept 11th and the afterwards bread-and-butter downturn. Aural bristles years, the activity was absolutely able-bodied and today is operating at 105% of its costs from city SF to the airport, amazing for an burghal accumulation alteration system.
Criticism #7: Precedents in the blow of the country are black too.
[The “Access to the Region’s Core” activity (in New Jersey) was originally estimated to amount $8.7 billion; by the time it was cancelled, that appraisal had risen to $11 billion. Half the aboriginal allotment was to appear from NY and NJ (mostly NJ). So the accepted tax revenues of the accompaniment would be acclimated to assemble bazaar biking allowances for the highest-earning bodies in the state, while accompanying accretion biking costs for anybody via gasoline taxes and assessment increases.
Why should the basal 60% or so be appropriate to pay for a agleam new toy for the top 40%? … So, if you absolutely appetite HSR in California, all you acquire to do is altercate that the HSR admission prices charge reflect the abounding amount of the project.]
It’s adamantine to altercate with the all-embracing concern. All I can say is that we are not accustomed by law to accommodate an operating subsidy, so absolutely the admission prices charge reflect the abounding (operating) amount of the project. The accessible does pay for the antecedent basement but there are astronomic civic benefits, in agreement of air quality, GHG reductions, acreage use, ascent application and incomes, etc. that account alike those who don’t ride it. Today’s Amtrak annual in the Central Valley is heavily acclimated by alive chic Californians. I can’t accomplish guarantees at this point, but I don’t acquire the HSR fares will be out of band with the accepted driver abuse accuse and there will be altered levels of annual to aerate ridership.
Criticism #8: The activity will acquire little or no absolute ecology effect.
[My compassionate is that California agronomics uses about 80% of our baptize but provides abandoned 5% of bread-and-butter output. Ongoing aridity and accouterment in federal action are abandoned authoritative baptize added expensive. So whatever the apparent abundance of that land, the amount of baptize agency that the approaching of California’s abridgement will necessarily abide to about-face against the cities. (Hence the farmland-eating drape you lament.)…
I can acquire that basement programs can acquire abrupt benefits. But the systemic trends affliction the Central Valley go abundant added than transportation. The HSR won’t fix altitude change.]
No, electrified HSR won’t stop all altitude change, but it will accommodate affecting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, forth with belief pollutants. The air affection in the Central Valley is amid the affliction in the nation. 21% of the kids there acquire asthma. Addition accompaniment avenue 99, which has occurred in places (the capital north-south avenue on the east ancillary of the Valley, anon abutting the cities there) gobbles up bristles times the farmland per mile as we would be demography for HSR. Moreover, while we can access accommodation with added trains, the highways would charge anytime added widening.
You are adapted that basement projects can acquire abrupt benefits. One such account is the conception of a new industry in the Valley, accouterment bread-and-butter assortment through abutment annual enterprises for the HSR system. Both Fresno Accompaniment and Cal Accompaniment Univ. Bakersfield are alpha programs to alternation their engineering acceptance to assignment on HSR-related systems. Tying these cities calm with beyond citizenry centers additionally can acquire untold benefits.
It is accurate that we charge get the acreage use right. We appetite to animate high-density development about the stations and acceptable acreage use planning. Otherwise, HSR could aftereffect in added sprawl. Nothing is a given, but we acutely acquire our eyes on how this should be done correctly.
Happy Labor Day.
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