Report cites benefits of high-speed rail


By Bay City News Service

A statewide high-speed train would significantly improve Bay Area transportation, as well as create thousands of jobs in the region, according to a report released Thursday by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a partnership of business, labor, government and higher education.

Proposition 1 A on the Nov. 4 ballot proposes a $9.9 billion bond measure to provide initial funding for the estimated $45-billion California High-Speed Train System.

The report said the main benefits of the high-speed train system would be the Bay Area's employment, mobility, urban development and environment.

Additionally, the total costs of building the train system are estimated to be less than half of what it would cost to expand highways and airports, according to the report.

"While transportation projects such as highway and airport expansions are being explored statewide for development between now and 2030, they will not be adequate to accommodate California's growth," Bay Area Council Economic Institute President Sean Randolph, who authored the report, said in a prepared statement.

The project can increase employment in the Bay Area by 1 percent, with 48,000 long-term jobs, and would directly generate more than 100,000 jobs during the period of construction, the report stated.

In addition, the high-speed train service can help Bay Area businesses expand their markets within California by providing more efficient access throughout the state, according to the report.

Mr. Randolph cited high-speed rail systems in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Japan and China as significant features of "advanced, globally competitive economies."

Travel time between San Francisco and San Jose via the high-speed rail would be 30 minutes, and a train ride to Los Angeles would take 2 hours and 38 minutes, easing commutes and reducing pressure on the Bay Area's airports, the report stated.

The report found that a high-speed rail trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles would save 320 pounds of carbon dioxide over the same trip by car.

By the year 2020, the high-speed rail could be expected to reduce carbon dioxide in California by 12 billion pounds, according to the report.

  • Read the 44-page report online [PDF.

  • Comments

    Like this comment
    Posted by Sam
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 10:32 am

    A vocal minority - Property owners near the Caltrain tracks - should not drown out the voices of the majority of those in Menlo Park and Atherton who would benefit from high speed rail.
    Some say that elevated tracks would divide the town. But the current tracks already divide the town - In fact, elevated tracks would allow us to connect with more pedestrian/bicycle short cut walkways below the tracks. Or, is it possible to put the tracks below grade?
    For much of the right of way through Menlo Park, the train tracks are bordered by the commercial area east of El Camino, and by Alma Street, not by residential parcels that come right up to the tracks. At least in south Menlo Park there is plenty space around Alma street to accommodate temporary construction space.
    Yes, construction would be disruptive and would take years, but the infrastructure would benefit us, our kids, grandkids, and generations to come.

    Like this comment
    Posted by no koolaid for me
    a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    You might argue that we need to sacrifice Menlo Park, Atherton, and most of Palo Alto for the good of the state of California. But there is no way that any rational person can argue that it would help the residents of those communities.

    HSR does not alleviate current local transit problems, the main source of traffic congestion and emissions.

    We will still need expanded freeway and airport capacity, as the impact of HSR on our freeways and airports will be negligible.

    We will be expected to provide housing for tens of thousands of new HSR employees. Where will we build that?

    HSR will not benefit us. It will benefit only a few politicians and those who stand to pocket the money.

    Like this comment
    Posted by Robert
    a resident of another community
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Sam, stop trying to make sense. People here don't want to hear it. They want a nice polarized dog fight to protect their narrow self interest, and internet forums like this deliver those nicely.

    Like this comment
    Posted by Joanna
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Well said. Everyone benefits from major projects like highway 280. If we listened to a few who might be inconvenienced, we would have no progress at all.

    Like this comment
    Posted by not that dumb
    a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    I still haven't heard anyone say why HSR will be good for Menlo Park or Atherton, now, or in 20 years.

    Maybe because there isn't anything to say.

    Maybe because some of you have been so charmed by the pictures of pretty trains that you would just as soon not have to think about whether or not it makes sense for our state to spend money we don't have on a pork barrel project.

    Just because something costs a lot of money doesn't mean it qualifies as "progress."

    Like this comment
    Posted by Spokker
    a resident of another community
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    "I still haven't heard anyone say why HSR will be good for Menlo Park or Atherton"

    It won't. It doesn't bother me that it won't. I will be voting yes on Prop 1A and can't wait to ride through Menlo Park and Atherton and observe how the construction is inconveniencing your "communities".

    I don't care about communities. I live in cities with the rest of the country.

    Like this comment
    Posted by the joke is on who?
    a resident of Menlo Park: other
    on Oct 3, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    You're a Cal State student, right Spokker? Doubt you'll ever be able to afford a high speed train ticket. And I expect that the closest you'll probably get to a real community is the view from the window as you press your forlorn face against the glass in passing.

    After next month, you may have to find a real job. "Posted oppositional comments on forums" is sure to be a winner, especially given the current rate of unemployment.

    We won't miss you on this forum.

    Like this comment
    Posted by Glen
    a resident of another community
    on Oct 4, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    YES on 1A...think about people in the future and stop being such nasty old self-centered things...

    Like this comment
    Posted by ends don't justify means
    a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
    on Oct 4, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I am not persuaded that this project is well-planned or that it is that sensitive to the environment and will avoid more sprawl. From what I heard of the city study session, the route plans at least one station in the middle of a field. This is sooo not "green" except to the spec developers who intend to build there.
    This is such a huge project and we're in a difficult economy. I do not support rushing into this until answers are provided to questions asked on numerous occasions by our city and by thoughtful people.
    Sorry - a good end (HSR)does not justify any means to get there.

    Like this comment
    Posted by not buying it
    a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
    on Oct 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I am so glad that people a century ago didn't try to anticipate my needs by spending a huge amount of money on a major horse & buggy upgrade. What a waste that would have been!

    I would love to see a truly creative approach to dealing with transit issues. Instead, this one reeks of spoiled pork.

    Like this comment
    Posted by Spokker
    a resident of another community
    on Oct 4, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    "We won't miss you on this forum."

    When high speed rail is being constructed through rich, white Menlo Park and Atherton I will go there and laugh. I will get off at the Atherton Caltrain station (Weekends only lol. Why would an Atherton resident ride the train? You guys scared you might have to sit next to a person of Hispanic descent on the train?) and jump for joy at all the dust and noise construction will create.

    I will take pictures of your newly divided "community" and share them with my train loving brethren. We will all laugh at how high speed rail triumphed over pathetic NIMBY opposition. Who cares what Menlo Park and Eureka, CA think? SF, LA, Sacramento, Riverside, San Diego, Anaheim, and more are going to pass this bond.

    And you'll get to foot the bill. :)

    "You're a Cal State student, right Spokker? Doubt you'll ever be able to afford a high speed train ticket."

    Since I didn't pay a dime for my education (residents of places like Menlo Park and Atherton got to pay for it), I've saved more than enough money for high speed rail tickets.


    Like this comment
    Posted by glen
    a resident of another community
    on Oct 4, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    horse and buggy? ..spoke like a stupid has been.its ok IKE and MAMMIE are no longer live in the White House...there DEAD. [Portion removed; see terms of use.]

    Like this comment
    Posted by Robert Fisher
    a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
    on Oct 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    No, thank you. Not the least bit interested in HSR. Never mind how disruptive the years-long construction will be, which will direcly impact me -- if someone can tell me now a cash-strapped state like California can even *begin* to dream about paying for this project, I'd like to hear it. Raise that issue with the likes of Joanna, Spokker, and the marginally-literate "glen," and I'm sure it's blank stares all around.

    Bobby Fischer

    Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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