High Speed Rail (insert some devisive political phrase to attract attention)

Discussion in 'Blazers OT Forum' started by bluefrog, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. bluefrog

    bluefrog Go Blazers, GO!

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    HSR has been in the news a lot lately. Florida just shot down a big rail project for the state.

    Unfortunately the topic has been politicized putting the future of rail in the U.S. in danger. The usually level headed conservative George Will made an unusual emotional argument against rail last week:
    The time may not be right for HSR because they are costly, long term, risky projects and only appropriate for a few regions in the US (i.e. New England). It's hard for congress to dump large amounts on a select few regions while neglecting the rest.

    The time is right for small scale urban rail projects. They are cheaper, have more immediate results (less traffic) and are suitable for just about every metropolitan region. As a nation we need to build up a network of higher-speed regular trains that becomes dense enough that you can actually use HSR.
     
  2. bodyman5001

    bodyman5001 Genius

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    Is it still 1950? Rail is old news. Too little too late.

    Feel free to start a charity that takes donations from people (train geeks) that want to build it and see what happens.
     
  3. bluefrog

    bluefrog Go Blazers, GO!

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    Strange, the rest of the world never got the memo. China, Japan, Germany and France have all been enjoying the benefits of a modern rail system.
    HSR trains are electric which is a pretty old technology but not as old as the internal combustion engine.

    NO need to, GE, Siemens and JCR have made profits with their private ventures. CRH is doing well too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2011
  4. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    We have a small-scale urban rail here in Portland and it is not exactly the best idea ever... it has done nothing for traffic, basically (Projects they said would not be needed like extending 26 on the west side or dealing with the 217 issues) were not solved by it - 26 has since been extended, 217 is now.

    HSR makes sense in very specific places. Down the east-coast corridor from Boston to Wash/DC is probably the only one that really makes sense. A SF <-> LA might be useful somewhat as well - but probably much less than the east-coast corridor.
     
  5. bluefrog

    bluefrog Go Blazers, GO!

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    I was reading about the rail in Portland and it's interesting because opponents of rail were using as an example of failure to reduce traffic and proponents of rail used it as an example of it raising home values.

    Is it's ridership high? Do people use it?
     
  6. SlyPokerDog

    SlyPokerDog Woof! Staff Member Administrator

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    26 has always stopped at the ocean, not sure where you want to extend it to, Hawaii? Asia?
     
  7. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    Funny. Extending in the form of adding lanes. Not making it longer.

    FWIW - They can make it longer without making it go to Asia. You just add curves. Lots of them. That would be fun.
     
  8. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    Didn't we read recently about Portland being one of the 10 markets where housing is at rock bottom? Not sure I buy the adding to home value stuff there. It certainly did not do anything for traffic. It seems, honestly, to be a waste of money when it comes to impact. If all that money would have gone to extending 26, 217 and the other areas where traffic is bad before they built it - it would have saved 2 - 3 years of bad traffic for a lot more people than the number of riders that take the Max.

    Sure, people use it and it is growing, but that still does not make it a wise investment. If you put the same money in a place where it would have benefited 4 times the people first - it would have been a better investment. Add the fact that Portland is actually an ideal place in the US for light-rail because of the UGB - making the city rather compact (area wise) - and it seems that this is not the greatest way to handle the vast majority of the American cities. We are too spread out to really benefit from it. The places where you have high population concentration - the large metro areas like NYC, Boston, Washington DC - already have a rail system.The spread-out more common American city is just not a good target for this form of transportation.

    Until people start living in dense urban areas - you are just offering a solution that is far from optimal.
     
  9. barfo

    barfo commie pinko... now with added syphilis! Staff Member Global Moderator

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    I think they mean areas where the rail line serves, not the entire city.

    How do you know?

    Yeah, it might have. That's the thing about road projects - the more lanes you build, the more cars they attract. So yeah, 2-3 years is about right for the impact of such a project.
    The trains will last what, 50 years? 100?

    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Part of the goal of modern rail projects is to encourage denser urban areas. [Yes, I can hear the screaming of our libertarian colleagues even now. Our god-given freedom to build suburbs on farmland should never be restricted!]

    barfo
     
  10. HAAK72

    HAAK72 Well-Known Member

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    ...I am all in favor of any and all rail systems in the US and beyond, electro-magnetic even!
     
  11. EL PRESIDENTE

    EL PRESIDENTE IM ME, I DO ME, AND I CHILL

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    SD to LA to SF would kind of be a waste for a high speed rail system. It just would. People doing real business can fly pretty easily or even in this age of telecommuting, its kind of unnecessary. Even for casual travel, flying from LA to SF is extremely easy.

    Its pretty simple to fly in and out in a day if you need to do something for business. 30 minute flight versus 2-3 hours on a bullet train. Even with travel times and waiting for a plane, its not that bad. No serious business person is going to take the bullet train to commute to the bay area, its a novelty more than anything. Its more expensive and takes longer...where's the appeal in that?

    It kind of makes sense within the bay area though with a quicker and more efficient BART though, on a smaller scale. Related industries and high tech from San Jose to Mountain View to other parts of the bay.

    California can't afford it and it isn't going to magically stimulate commerce.
     
  12. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    Wish I was that lucky to get $292m spent on improving the value of my home.

    And the lane will last how long? Do they go bad after 5 years? The more lanes you build the more cars they attract? So the success of a public project is if it fails to attract use? Is the Max going to be a success if it does not grow rapidly in use? This is not a very good argument, honestly.


     
  13. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    The nice thing about it is that you might be able to have the train station in the middle of downtown - without having to spend tons of time to go to SFO, wait to get on the plane, wait for clearance to leave the ground and do the same on the other side.

    It does make much more sense in the East however, where density is much bigger and they have even worse traffic issues.


    Related industries and high tech from San Jose to Mountain View to other parts of the bay.

    California can't afford it and it isn't going to magically stimulate commerce.[/QUOTE]
     
  14. EL PRESIDENTE

    EL PRESIDENTE IM ME, I DO ME, AND I CHILL

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    We'll see. The cost of travel is higher than flying, that's a killer. I just don't see the practicality of it....in today's world you don't need to move from city to city that often. The trend of modern business, at least in California is not concentrated in metropolitan areas like they are in other parts of the world or even the East Coast. Major corporations, more often than not, are located in suburban areas nowadays, not city centers. You'll have to eventually take a taxi or get a ride to say Google HQs or wherever anyway.
     
  15. barfo

    barfo commie pinko... now with added syphilis! Staff Member Global Moderator

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    You were the one complaining about traffic congestion, weren't you? Is a highway a success if it is congested all the time?
    Rail can handle considerably more traffic per "lane" than a highway. If usage increases, you don't have to build another rail line. You just run more trains on the same line.

    Perhaps. What is the right way to go about it?

    barfo
     
  16. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    Is it congested all the time? No, it is only congested during rush hour. And adding a lane offers a solution to the problem instead of offering a solution without a problem. The big dispersal of American cities means that even rail-lines require car use to get to the train stations unless you pay astronomical sums to have a station on every block - so all you do is make the commute much more complicated for everyone other than the lucky few that live within walking distance of the station.

    You move the congestion from the roads to parking places at the train station. My wife would have loved to take the Max to downtown every morning, unfortunately, by 8:00am the parking lot at Sunset station is full. So she either has to take a bus that would make her 25 minute commute into a 70 minutes commute or she can not take the Max. It did absolutely nothing for her and the vast majority in the Portland metro area that live out of the small downtown. The reality is that forcing people to live where they do not want to live (the dense urban areas) is just the wrong way of going about solving the problem.

    This is patently not true on both accounts. If you convert all road traffic to buses the road traffic has the same density as the rail density - and if you run more trains you will, sooner or later, need to expand the number of lines to allow all the traffic to work - otherwise you have train congestion when multiple trains are waiting for an available junction to route them to the right place.

    KISS. If you have traffic congestion because your road infrastructure is not up to date - you improve your road infrastructure instead of trying to apply the wrong solution to the problem. If the people are hungry and have no bread it makes no sense to suggest they eat cake instead. The street car within downtown Portland makes sense. The Max line to the suburbs over widening the highways from the suburbs does not make sense. If there is a hurricane coming down you better work on strengthening your abode instead of putting your hair in a pony-tail because it might get messed up in the wind...
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  17. bluefrog

    bluefrog Go Blazers, GO!

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    When I hear about adding lanes to a highway just to deal with the 3-4 hours of congestion the word "inefficient" comes to mind. There has to be a better solution than just adding lanes that will only be used for a short time on a daily basis.
    People can get to the station by bicycle or bus. Cars aren't the only mode of transportation.

    Rail isn't just for commuters going to work. It's a much more convenient mode of transportation for visitors to the city. I hear a lot of compliments on Portland's rail system from people who have been there recently on business.

    Rail is much easier to scale than roads. True there is a point where new rails and lines have to be constructed to accommodate passengers but it's much easier to double the traffic on rail as opposed to roads
     
  18. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    Intel has a very nice solution - staggering shift times. But the population in general is not interested in it, it seems. As for inefficient - it is more efficient and usually much cheaper to add a lane than build a rail line.

    You are increasing the commute time significantly - which is the definition of inefficiency. The commute is not the destination - it is just a tool to get the job done.

    ... and that's why Portland is such a mecca and destination for business travelers? Wait, it's not. If it does not translate to success for making Portland live on tourism - what's the point?

    This is patently not true in our situation. You need to increase parking or quadruple the public transportation getting to the station - which is just as inefficient. If you ignore the fact that this mode of transport does not make sense for our dispersal - you can claim these "easy to scale" things. The reality does not work.
     
  19. bluefrog

    bluefrog Go Blazers, GO!

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    I like Intel's idea but it would be easier to install rail than to get hundreds of employers to agree to staggering shift times.
    Maybe for you. It's faster for me to bike 3 miles than take the bus or drive. Everyone's situation is different, rail may be a viable solution for other people. It's not going to be the best option for everyone's commute, it's just another alternative. 120,000 think it's the best option for them so it's at least mildly successful.
    The point is what I wrote: "Rail isn't just for commuters going to work." Portland has visitors, some of them like to use the rail.
    People aren't going to use rail unless they can drive there? Quadruple public transportation to the stations? These are just personal beliefs, they don't reflect reality.
     
  20. andalusian

    andalusian Season - Restarted

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    US-26 gets 145K cars a day compared to around 32,000 riders per day for the Max west side. Even if there was only 1 individual per car - this is more than 4 times the use for just one highway, add the people going over backroads and other routes (rt. 8, 10, Skyline, Cornell) and it is pretty clear that this was not an optimal solution. Now, let's look at costs, the west side line cost $963m in 1993-1998 dollars. In comparison, the 2 miles that are extended today between 158 and 185 on 26 will cost $12m in 2011 dollars. Assuming we multiply this number by 15 (to reach downtown and extend it out to North Plain, roughly as far as the Max on the west side goes) and multiple the costs by 3 in case there are some issues closer to Portland that were not found in this section - you get to $540m in today's dollars.

    In other words - you paid at least 3 times as much to service a quarter of the drivers to add the Max west side. Not a wise use of money. Simple as that.

    These are not beliefs. Try getting a parking space at Sunset TC after 8:00am in the morning. Find out how long it gets to get to Sunset TC from my house, 5 miles from sunset TC in the morning without a car. See what it is like to do it on rainy days when you need to look respectable for clients and can not use a bike. This is just not a viable option, honestly. Remember that the Portland metro area has 2.5m people but only 500,000 leave in the city of Portland itself. The numbers just do not compute.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011

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