Making the case for high-speed rail
By John Boyle
The Menlo Park and Atherton city councils recently voted to join a
lawsuit against the current high-speed rail project and against Proposition 1a, the related November bond measure.
Although I was the lone dissenter,it's worth noting that Menlo
Park and Atherton were the only two cities in the state to join this
lawsuit. Meanwhile our governor,key legislative leaders, environmental groups (including California League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club), business groups, labor groups, consumer
groups, education groups (California Federation of Teachers), and many others have all endorsed Prop 1A.
At $9.9 billion, this bond is expensive, and portions of the plan are controversial. But all big infrastructure investments are
tough decisions. And this investment will leverage multiple funding sources. California expects to receive up to one-third of the
construction costs from federal funds for this, the first high-speed rail system in our country. Additionally, high-speed rail will
leverage private sector investments and joint developments with Caltrain.
Our economy depends on our ability to move people and goods cost-effectively. This investment has the potential to generate 450,000 permanent jobs, create more housing options around transit stations, reduce sprawl, and stimulate commerce throughout our state.
Doing nothing is not an option. The alternative is to plow an
estimated $80 billion into new roads and airports to support the
estimated growth in California's population over the next 20 years.
Even ignoring the "greater good" argument, there are many
**Quicker: Estimated travel time between the Mid-peninsula and Los Angeles is about two hours. No weather delays, no traffic back-ups, and no airport hassles.
**Cleaner: The electric high-speed rail system will deliver enormous environmental benefits by eliminating nearly 12 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year and use one third the energy of air travel and one fifth the energy of auto travel.
**Quieter: The high-speed rail project will pay for grade separations wherever the tracks cross a street. No train horns will be needed at separated grades, and the trains are lighter and use improved rail technology to further reduce noise.
**Safer: Thanks to grade separations and technology innovations, the trains will be safer and reduce local congestion on our streets (no delays at crossings).
Menlo Park and Atherton are also fortunate to be among the few communities which will have local access to the trains, whose only stopping point between San Francisco and San Jose is planned for Redwood City or Palo Alto. We need to work hard to ensure that this
project is done in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the local negatives. Forcing expensive delays and voting against
the bond measure does neither. The last time our region faced this type of decision, we blocked BART from coming down the Peninsula. Let's not repeat that mistake.
This project has been under development for over 25 years. Governor Jerry Brown signed the first high-speed rail bill in 1982. Over $55 million has already been spent on studies and design. With construction inflation on a project of this size, delays can increase the final cost by literally billions of dollars. It's time to move forward. Join me in voting yes on Proposition 1A. For more information, visit www.cahigh speedrail.ca.gov
John Boyle is a Menlo Park
City Council member.
This viewpoint article in today's (Oct 1, 2008) Almanac by councilman Boyle shows an extreme lack of knowledge and certainly shows he does not have the interests of Menlo Park at the forefront of his thinking.
The travel time between Mid-peninsula and LA is not about 2 hours. No, I'm afraid not. The proposed travel time between San Francisco and LA on a non-stop train is to be 2 hours 42 minutes. Now please understand that is a non-stop train. There will be no non-stop trains between Mid-peninsula (at Redwood City or perhaps Palo Alto stations) and LA. Travel time on trains other than the few non-stop trains planned will be much higher. Figure 3 hours 15 minutes or longer from Mid-peninsula to LA. Furthermore, rail experts who prepared a due diligence report found at
say even the proposed 2 hr. and 42 minute non-stop trip will turn out to be more like 3 hours and 30 minutes.
So it won't be quicker, sorry about that. In point of fact as we are now just beginning to see security screening get more efficient at airports, the total travel time point to point on an airplane is going to swing even more in favor of air travel. After all, San Jose to LA, in the air time, is only about 50 minutes. So HSR won't be quicker, it will be very much lower.
John only talks about the 9.95 billion dollar Prop 1A bond measure. This is only a down payment on the total estimated cost of $45 billion. A much more realistic costs estimate is 80 billion, as pointed out in the report referred to above.
This project has no business plan. Shocking as that sounds, after 10 years and spending 60 million dollars, the HSR project has no business plan. Prop 1A demanded a business plan be delivered by the first of Sept. The date came and went -- no business plan. John Boylefs background was in Venture Capital. Can you imagine a Venture Capitalist looking at funding a new venture, and hot insisting on a business plan?
This project will pass right through Menlo Park's business district, with its land takings, 4 tracks on a 15 foot high wall or bermed elevation -- 100 feet in width. It will simply be an environmental disaster for our City. As a Menlo Park Councilperson, John is supposed to be concerned with Menlo Park. He seems to be trumpeting the fact that he is the lone dissenter to the City Council's passing of a strong resolution against Prop 1A and also the only vote against Menlo Park joining a lawsuit against the defective EIR that was certified for the project.
Well, I think the filled council chambers at the study session on the subject tells the story. The Viewpoint article here should make for good reading if Mr. Boyle should decide to seek another term in 2 years.
Join me in Voting No on Prop 1A.