Prop. 1A High speed rail Bonds. What were CA voters thinking anyway?

As juice readers has expressed concerns regarding our potential $100 billion mass transit bullet train system I thought it  best to share the text of Proposition 1A as found in Section 2704.09 of the Nov 4, 2008 CA General Election Ballot Book. It is worth stating that Orange County voters rejected this Bond Measure with 56.4 percent voting no and 43.6 percent casting a yes vote. Further, the majority of Riverside and San Diego County voters agreed with us and also voted no.

As you read the text of Proposition 1A think about your own business and personal travel and corresponding modes of transportation. Do not overlook how we are to get to these high speed stations from our homes or place of employment and the related connection time and associated costs.

 i.e..(1)  How often do you go to San Francisco (or Sacramento) from LA?
     (2)  How frequent will you be traveling from LA Union Station to Oakland?
     (3) What about LA to San Diego?

One illustration found in the ballot measure is a high speed train from San Francisco to San Jose. Today, commuters in the San Jose area can take Caltrain #319 northbound from San Jose making stops at Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Mateo and Milbrae picking up other passengers on the route to San Francisco. That train departs the San Jose station at 7:03 a.m. and arrives in San Francisco at 8:02 a.m. The express bullet train illustrated in the ballot will only pick up passengers in San Jose which truly limits the passengers to (or from) San Francisco with their projected 30 minute ride. This is a great illustration of spinning the speed of the “empty” train versus real world proven daily ridership.

The following time targets are based on nonstop travel between destinations:

2704.09. The high speed train system to be constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following characteristics:
(a) Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour
(b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that shall not exceed the following:
(1) San Francisco–Los Angeles Union Station: 2 hours, 40 minutes
(2) Oakland–Los Angeles Union Station : 2 hours, 40 minutes
(3) San Francisco-San Jose: 30 minutes
(4) San Jose-Los Angeles: 2 hours, 10 minutes
(5) San Diego-Los Angeles: one hour , 20 minutes
(6) Inland Empire-Los Angeles: 30 minutes
(7) Sacramento -Los Angeles: two hours, 20 minutes
(c) Achievable operating headway (time between successive trains) shall be five minutes or less.
(d) The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains for all the corridors described in subdivision (b) of section 2704.04 shall not exceed 24. There shall be no station between the Gilroy station and the Merced station
(e) Trains shall have the capacity to transition intermediate stations, or to bypass those stations, at mainline operating speed
(f) For each corridor described in subdivision (b) passengers shall have the capacity of traveling from any station on the corridor to any other station on that corridor without being required to change trains.
(g) In order to reduce impacts on communities and the environment, the alignment for the high-speed train system shall follow existing transportation or utility corridors to the extent feasible and shall be financially viable, as determined by the authority.
(h) Stations shall be located in areas with good access to local mass transit or other modes of transportation.
(i) The high-speed train system shall be planned and constructed in a manner that minimizes urban sprawl and impacts on the natural environment
(j) Preserving wildlife corridors and mitigating impacts to wildlife movement, where feasible as determined by the authority, in order to limit the extent to which the system may present an additional barrier to wildlife’s natural movement.

Gilbert comments. Although Prop 1A was passed by the voters it is still important for us to send a message to CHSRA that they have to meet the matching funding mandate as well as to “sell” us on the merits of this “special interest” train. I say “special interest” with  respect to Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle who would love to make it easier to bring tourists to his city. However, Anaheim represents only 10 percent of the total population of Orange County. I have already pointed out that the voters included in the 3 million residents of Orange County rejected this  transportation project last Nov.
His gain will turn into our loss as future statewide services will be diminished as we pay off the debt service of these Bonds for  the next 40 years while tourists from the Bay area can get to Disneyland a few hours faster than driving.

I have not addressed commuters taking the high speed train from Anaheim to LA’s Union Station as that route is not mentioned anywhere in the Proposition 1 A text. However it would be interesting for us to see the projected ridership numbers and ticket pricing of that bullet train.

About Larry Gilbert