Tag Archive: local transport

Oct 21 2013

Sunday Train: A Train Running A Profit is Charging Too Much

This is a repeat of a Sunday Train that originally ran on 24 January 2010

Note that the statement is abbreviated for the title. The full statement is, a common carrier like a train, bus, or plane that running a profit based on passenger revenue while paying its full operating and capital cost is charging too much for its tickets.

The radical abbreviation of the title is in part because of the radical abbreviation of the lie that is commonly used as a frame. The lie is that a common carrier like a train, bus or plane that is paying for its full operating and capital costs out of passenger revenue ought to run a profit, commonly expressed as a charge of, “SERVICE_XYZ is losing money, it needs to be reformed!“, which assumes that Service_XYZ is supposed to be making a profit.

And, of course, in the sense described above, if its a common carrier transport service, of course it shouldn’t be making a profit. And further, if under the above conditions, if its making a profit, you’re doing it wrong. In the sense given above, PROFIT=FAIL.

This is problematic under our economic system, because under our economic system, running a profit on the full cost of production normally means that you are free to continue without substantial outside interference, while not making a profit implies that you have to go cap in hand begging for money to operate. So if the main assertion is correct, we have a situation where you can be doing it wrong, and be free to continue, or be doing it right, and have to constantly beg for permission to continue doing it right.

Oct 07 2013

Sunday Train: A Nation of Cycleways vs Level of Service

Sacramento Kings fans rejoice! The California State Legislature has passed and Governor Brown has signed a measure paving the way for a new downtown Sacramento Arena, potentially keeping the Kings from high-tailing it to Seattle!

What does this have to do with sustainable transport? More than someone would think who only read the headlines. The bill as passed involves several changes to the evaluation of projects that will benefit sustainable transport projects, including:

Provisions of SB 743 will:

 

–Remove parking and aesthetics standards as grounds for legal challenges against developments in urban infill areas near transit stops.

 

–Modernize the statewide measurements against which traffic impacts are assessed and resolved, allowing developers to offset the impacts by building near mass transit stations.

 

–Expand an exemption from CEQA litigation for mixed residential/commercial projects located within transit priority areas where a full environmental impact review has already been completed.

The first of these three reforms reduces the opportunity to block a project on the grounds that it does not provide sufficient subsidy to motorists in the form of parking. The third of the three reforms reduces one of the disadvantages that mixed-use Transit-Oriented-Development faces compared to greenfield sprawl development.

But it is the second of the three reforms that is the real lede: within a half mile of a transit service that meets a quality of service threshold, it is no longer necessary to prove that the project maintains the same “Level of Service” to automobiles alone as an aspect of “Environmental Quality”.

May 27 2012

Sunday Train: Sustainable Steam Train? / SF Muni – HSR Disconnect? / A Geary Aerobus?

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

This week’s Sunday Train is a trio of shorter topics. The first is a research development project to develop a modern steam train to run on biocoal. The target is a sustainable steam train that, as a headline grabber, will attempt to run at 130mph and break the world steam train speed record. There’s much to like about this research development project … but I am going to argue that biocoal to operate trains is not it.

Second, SF’s MUNI transport agency is one of the ten agencies slated to split $760m in Prop1a(2008) bond funds improvements to systems interconnecting with the planned High Speed Rail system. The balance of the $950m goes to the three existing Amtrak California intercity rail services, the Capitol Corridor, the San Joaquin, and the Surfliner.

Odd thing is, the proposal that SF MUNI is setting forward doesn’t actually connect to the proposed HSR system? What’s up with that, after the break.

And third, a speculative look at an alternative technology that SF MUNI might deploy that money on, that actually would connect with the HSR system at the Transbay Terminal, as well as connecting to BART, the MUNI light rail network, the existing (and proposed alternative) Caltrain terminus at 4th and King, and provide express transit service along Geary Blvd.

So instead of the traditional long trip, Sunday Train for Memorial Day Weekend has three short exursions. Join us for one, two, or all three, after the break.

Apr 30 2012

Sunday Train: Leveraging HSR for a Fresno Regional Rail Corridor

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Kings County officials have been opposed all proposed routes:

Board members said no high-speed rail route through Kings County would be acceptable while denouncing the Authority and its Fresno-to-Bakersfield environmental impact report.

“I think we should come out and oppose high-speed rail in Kings County, no matter what alignment they have,” said Supervisor Tony Barba during a discussion of the county’s official response to the EIR, which is due Thursday. He was applauded by a large crowd that nearly filled the Board of Supervisors’ chambers at the Kings County Government Center.

And then they opposed getting started on California HSR:

HANFORD – Kings County supervisors on Tuesday will likely ask three key legislators to delay high-speed rail funding until the project resolves local conflicts.



The Legislature is expected to vote in June whether to spend $2.7 billion in state bond money on the project, which has created major controversy in the San Joaquin Valley and stoked opposition from several cities and counties who believe it should be scrapped.

Denying the funding would stop the Authority from starting construction in Fresno later this year or in early 2013.

And now, County officials seek to preserve Amtrak :



But Authority officials have recently entered into discussions with Kings County to see if Amtrak service through Hanford and Corcoran can be preserved, said Larry Spikes, Kings County administrative officer. Downtown stations are considered critical to cities’ local economy.

Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Taking Amtrak right out of the heart of Hanford and Corcoran is just not a good idea,” Spikes said.

So, don’t want the HSR Station in town, don’t want the HSR to go outside of town, and wants Amtrak to be continued to Hanford and Corcoran at slow speed when the San Joaquin after the high speed route between Merced and Bakersfield becomes available.

What I am looking in this week’s Sunday Train is a different way to go about this that provides a mix of local and intercity transport benefits to the major county centers: the Fresno Regional Rail Corridor.

Apr 02 2012

Sunday Train: HSR & the Slow Trains of No. California

The headlines out of California indicate that there has been a substantial shift in terms of the California HSR system. In particular, it seems that Gov. Brown has waded into the fray and is reframing the issue from the Only-An-Infrastructure-Geek-Could-Love frame of the Initial Construction Segment and the mythical “Train to Nowhere”, to the “when do I get to ride it?” frame of the Initial Operating Service.

You can find the lead up to the big move at the CHSRblog:

Deal Reached to Combine Caltrain Electrification and HSR (22MAR)

Legislature Appears to Have Votes to Approve HSR Funding (23MAR)

Jerry Brown Lowers HSR Cost by $30 billion

And Newspaper sneak previews of what will be Monday’s Big News at:

Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown to change high-speed rail plan, lower cost by $30

Mercury News: Questions remain despite revised Calif. rail plan  

SF Chronicle: High-speed rail plan slashes costs to calm critics

However, while the newspaper accounts given glimpses and hints and quotes of very carefully written statements from the principle actors … digging into the details will have to wait until the details are released.

So instead, I want to take a look at the existing “Slow Speed Rail” systems of Northern California, to get a better background understanding of what “connecting with” the existing systems might mean.

Dec 12 2011

Sunday Train: A Streetcar for Broadway (LA)

Nearly a month ago, Yonah Freemark had a post at The Transport Politic entitled, Los Angeles’ Streetcar Plans: Too Duplicative of Existing Services?. He wrote:

Los Angeles has big hopes for its downtown, and, like most of the country’s major cities, it has seen significant population growth in the inner core over the past ten years. Now, to extend this renaissance, the city – also like many others – is planning a streetcar line that would traverse the district from north to south. Last month, it applied for $37.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant dollars, which it hopes to supplement with local and private funds to complete an initial route of between 3 and 5 one-way track miles at a cost of between $106 and $138 million.

Despite the fact that planning for the L.A. streetcar goes back for more than a decade thanks to the work of a public-private local advocacy group, the city will have plenty of competition in its effort to win federal funds. Requests for the third round of TIGER funding outnumbered actual funding available by 27 to 1. With so many projects up for consideration, anything funded by Washington ought to be valuable. But L.A.’s project could benefit from significant improvement.

And then … well, join me over the fold.