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Original post made
on Jul 30, 2008
Don't you love it when the transit operators fight over a "fistful of dollars" when in fact they can't afford to build anything?
Go get'em BART. Go get'em Dumbarton. "I want the $91 million." "No, I want the $91 million; I need it more."
Kids, why won't they ever learn?
You see, the problem is much more complicated. First of all, most of the transit operators, as the Almanac Editorial and Rory Brown's article points out, are busy fighting for too few dollars to meet the needs of their expansionist agendas.
You should ask why they want to expand. What's the point? None of them understand what business they are in. They think they are in the railroad business; laying more track, electrifying, expanding. They don't realize that they should be in the people moving business, the transit business. Furthermore, they think they can go it alone, and indeed they are all highly competitive.
How stupid. As the Almanac has taken great pains to point out, they should be collaborating, working together synergistically and becoming the components of one integrated system of urban and regional transit. They should be multi-modal, not rail obsessed. It's not about the trains, you guys. It's about the best ways to move people around the Bay Area.
And, by the way, the Dumbarton task force (Caltrain in disguise) says that to get their train line across the Bay will cost $600 million. With or without the $91 million, they don't have $600 million.
But, here's the more important point. They will discover (if they don't already know or just won't tell us) that the remains of the train trestle across the Bay can't be used because what's left of it is not earthquake resistant enough for today's standards. Oops.
The High-Speed rail authority apparently knows this and in anticipating the Altamont option for their route into the Bay Area, they planned for several versions of a new bridge. You can read about it in their EIR/EIS. That new bridge would cost over $1 billion and more like $2 billion.
Dumbarton Rail makes no sense. The need for better transit in this corridor would be better served by Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and HOV improvements. If BART needs the extra money, going after this $91 million makes perfect sense.
Trains are dangerous just today train hit pedestrians again. BART has
right of ways built in which makes it vastly superior to trains (and
major reason its more expensive), BART is also already electrified,
goes to all major airports, sports stadiums, etc. BART would
encourage Bay Area growth and business and higher density instead
of encouraging people to commute from the farm fields of Turlock. By
supporting BART to major cities including SJ would encourage its use
to SJ Sharks games, SJ Performing Arts, SJ covention center, SJ
business, etc. A train connection is less likely to be used.
Train accident #1:
Train accident #2:
Train accident #3:
Mr. Engel is correct, these giant committees never know what business they're in, and fighting over scraps is a simple waste of time. The Secretary of Transportation, Ms. Peters, is starting to realize that this all has to change, and is now trying to tweak the system to subject highway projects to cost benefit analysis prior to funding ( a first ). It is noted in that same announcement that on average a US transit project can take around 13 years to complete the approval cycle.
This bureaucratic ossification has particularly severe consequences for transportation. Consider instead the new Stanford stadium, a genuinely well done project completed in a single year, due to limiting the decision processes to three people; the funder, the architect, and the builder. Until this approach can be brought to transit projects, we are doomed to the status quo.
Trains are not dangerous unless you are into walking on tracks, committing suicide by train, swerving around crossing gates, or sitting on the tracks at a crossing. The rest of you should be fine.
Using the HSRA as an "Authority" is rather silly. They priced the $1-2 billion for a bridge because they didn't want to build over Altamont for political/corruption reasons. The REASON the Dumbarton crossing is costing $600 million is TO rebuild the bridge so it meets standards, not in addition to it.
The Dumbarton is the best possible transit project for the peninsula/east bay. This is just a first step in numerous future links that this corridor can bridge, and six trains just the start of major frequency updgrades.
BART, though a wonderful system where it runs, is a black hole of funds that could built several conventional systems for every equal length of BART track. Had we built Caltrain-like service San Jose-Union City as once envisioned (the cars and locomotives were even on order a decade ago, until the BART-or-bust corruptionoids stepped on VTA's toes), we would have had trains running all day connecting BART to San Jose FIVE YEARS AGO. We'll maybe see Warm Springs BART in five years, if we're lucky. When, if ever, it hits Caltrain is at least 1-2 decades after that. I'm ordering a ride for my coffin in advance, just to make sure I make the trip!
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