Monday, November 10, 2008

The Boondoggle Chorus

boondoggle (bngl, -dgl):
1. work of little or no value done merely to look busy

I was planning to take a break from posting here for a bit, but I felt I had to address this matter. The opponents of High-Speed Rail have not taken a break from trying to undermine the CA High-Speed rail project just because Prop 1A passed. Like clock work they show up on any internet story relating to the project now as they did before the election, and rehash the same tired and debunked claims. Their hope is to shoot the project down before tracks get laid, as was done to similar attempts to kick start high-speed rail in Texas and Florida.

This in and of it self wouldn't be so damn annoying to me were it not for the fact that they (or maybe it's just one person posting under multiple names in their libertarian bunker somewhere), are completely head over heels in love with the word boondoggle. If I had a dollar for every use of the word boondoggle in the comments section of a high-speed rail related story, I could bank roll the private investor funding portion of Prop 1A my self.

If there were say a project to create a HSR line between Little Rock and Hot Springs Arkansas with claims of high ridership potential (my relatives would use it), then yes that would suit the word boondoggle quite nicely. However this project is connecting the biggest cites in one of the Nations most populace states, so the word holds no water to me in this context. The numerous nations that now run, or are in the planning stages of their own high-speed rail networks don't seem to think the idea is such a "boondoggle."

So it will be important in the months and years ahead that we be a voice of reason (jab, jab, poke, poke, Reason Foundation), and make sure that California understands the benefits of High-Speed Rail. We must see this thing through to completion and prove to Americans what a folly it was to let us get so behind in passenger rail in the first place.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We did it!! Prop 1A & Measure R Have Passed

Thanks to everyone who helped pass these measures, it's a good day for trains. I also expect that with an Obama/Biden white house, rail advocates will have a much stronger voice than under ol' W. This is a good day for America, and it's future transportation needs. I don't expect America to suddenly pull a China and invest $200 billion into rail projects, but I think we have some good days ahead of us.

I'm going to take a little break from blogging here for a bit, to get back to more riding my bike. My real motivation for creating this page was to see Prop 1A and Measure R pass, and that has now become mission accomplished. I want to give a big shout out to Robert Cruickshank and the folks at the CA HSR blog for writing so much detailed information about high-speed rail. And a big thanks and congratulations to the folks like Erin Steva at CALPIRG, who did more on the ground campaigning than it seemed even the official Yes On 1A group was organizing. Another shout to the kids at UCLA, who came out in force to promote Measure R and ensure the subway moves west. We did it!



UPDATE: I'm going to temper my enthusism for the moment with this statement from the CA HSR blog, which could effect either or both of these currently close measures: There are still absentee and provisional ballots out there. We don't yet know where or exactly how many, which is why the news outlets have not yet called it for Prop 1A. We are confident of victory but I felt I should make that note. The Secretary of State expects to have these reported tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OMG Election Day!!!

I've already cast my vote, but it will be a crazy ride watching all the rest of the votes come in. The fate of our presidency, Prop1A and Measure R will be decided today. I'm going to be all squirmy until reliable election results come in. I'm hopeful it's going to go well, and However, if it all goes wrong and McCain wins, Prop 1A fails, and Measure R fails, I will be sad and likely go into a time of mourning. So don't make me sad, go out there and vote for trains, because they are AWESOME!!!

Vote Yes on R & Prop 1A

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proposition 1A Coming Soon To A Voter Booth Near You. Why You Should Vote Yes.

Prop 1A Graphic Header

November 4th is right around the corner, and California Prop1A has a slight lead in the latest field poll, but is short of an assured victory. As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I am huge supporter of this project. Since this is the last chance to make the case for the train, I want to summarize some of the key points that make this such an awesome and necessary improvement to California infrastructure. My introduction to Prop 1A can be read here.

. With top speeds that will break 200 mph in the central valley, this train will be significantly faster than driving, and will be competitive with door to door travel times with airlines. Think of travel times like LA to SF in 2.5 hours. For LA commuters, the first usable stretch of the project will be Orange County to Downtown LA in less than a half hour. That is a two hour drive if you're lucky.

. High-speed trains are sleek, modern, and considerably more comfortable than air travel despite cheaper travel fares. Unlike the stress of driving, you can kick back and relax on trains, or for the eternally busy, you can pull out your laptop or make phone calls. I've seen people drive AND use their laptop, but this is worlds of stupid and liable to end up with someone getting killed.

. HSR trains are powered by 100% electricity, and are more efficient in energy usage per passenger than any other mode of long distance travel. Due to all electric power, it gives us great flexibility with how we want to generate that power, unlike the fossil fuel dependent air an automobile systems. In a state with so much abundant sunshine and heavy winds, the possibility of powering the entire train system on or partially on renewable energy sources is being explored. This is good for our CO2 emissions, and not to mention our reduced dependency on foreign oil for statewide travel.

. The project is a necessary component in increasing future traveling capacity and reducing travel time to handle the project growth of California's population in the coming decades. The biggest reason to vote no, that opponents make against the train, is they believe in a time of economic trouble we cannot afford to do this.

The truth is however, that this project could become one component of getting our state our economic burden. How? Well by creating much needed jobs that cannot be outsourced in a time of high unemployment, effecting the construction sector especially, it can get people back to work. The funding is not all on tax payers back either, with a private public partnership of investors that will split the costs.

Once the train is operational, it will foster greater state mobility, which will create economic benefits for generations to come. Unlike our airlines which have been through a series of recent bankruptcies, subsidized life support, and desperate mergers, high-speed rail lines like the TGV in France are posting record profits. As mentioned in the point of efficiency, this project reduces our dependence on foreign oil. As everyone and their grandmother is well aware now, oil dependence is bad for the economy. Our untapped oil sources in the US are a drop in the bucket when looking at our projected energy demands.

This train would add another transportation option into our mix. Having competition between different modes of travel benefits the whole system. Planes are most efficient and profitable at longer distances, like cross continental and international. The train could take pressure off airlines to provide service to areas unprofitable fly to, which they only cover due to government incentives. For distances too short to fly for the expense, but are annoying to drive due to traffic congestion, the HSR train would provide a fast alternative. In the event of an emergency that effects one mode of travel, such as the airline service shut down after 9/11, or a major highway closure, the HSR train could handle the displaced travel demands.

. Yes, trains are awesome.

Don't believe me? Check out what the LA Times, and the San Fransisco Chronicle had to say on the project. Don't think this could get federal matching funds, take a look at this endorsement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Senator Dianne Feinstein.

If you're still skeptical and really want to dig deep on this, I recommend looking through some of these highlights from Robert Cruickshank's exhaustively researched CA High-Speed Rail blog. Also you can check out the official website of which includes the complete route map and other details is here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CALPIRG, High Speed Trains & Kevin Bacon

Prop 1A Graphic Header

CALPIRG, the biggest grass roots organization promoting Prop1A & the CA High-Speed Rail project, has asked me to forward to my readers their latest plan to spread the word. So if you are a supporter of Prop1A, invoke the power of Kevin Bacon to help make this train a reality. Their message after the innocuous horizontal line of separation.

We need your help to get the word out about why it's important to vote YES on Prop 1A, which would bring a high-speed train to California.

Our target: Kevin Bacon. (And millions of Californians.)

If you've ever played the game, then you know that everyone is connected within Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. We're asking you to forward this email far and wide. If we can get enough people to forward it along, eventually it will get to Kevin Bacon - and it should reach millions of Californians along the way, educating the public about why we need high-speed rail.

We've created this video to explain why we're supporting Prop 1A. Watch it now:

Some specifics: Prop 1A would start the process of building the California High-Speed Rail line. This train would run from Sacramento to San Diego, taking passengers between northern and southern California way faster than driving. For example, travelers could get from LA to San Francisco in less than three hours.

The train would create 450,000 jobs once finished. It would reduce our dependence on oil by 12.7 million barrels a year, eliminate 12 billion pounds of harmful greenhouse gasses, and reduce traffic congestion. Get more information

Right now, most people don't know that High-Speed Rail is on the ballot and we don't have the money to buy TV commercials to educate people about Prop 1A. That's why we're counting on you to help us get the word out, by sending this message to all the Californians you know.

So keep this message going - if it reaches Kevin Bacon, then we can be pretty sure we've gotten the word out across the state! Please forward this email to friends, co-workers, moms, dads, aunts, uncles - everyone!

When you're done, go to our website and let us know how many people you forwarded the email to so we can see how many people we're reaching. You can also pledge to vote "yes for Prop 1A" there:

Thanks for all you do,

CALPIRG students from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, San Diego State, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State LA, Sac State, San Jose State, and SF State.

P.S. If you ARE Kevin Bacon and you are receiving this message, please let us know!

Back From NYC

NYC Metro M Line, Myrtle Av & Wyckoff Av Station

I just got back from a very multi-modal adventure. I flew to New York, van pooled into the city, took the PATH train to Jersey to pick up some used bikes from friends, and then through various combinations of cycling, walking and hopping on MTA commuter trains, bounced around in Brooklyn and Manhattan. L.A. has got a long way to go to reach the car-free mobility of New York City. After I sort through the photos and readjust to being on the Left Coast, I'll write up a post on my experiences using the trains in New York.