23 March 2009

Memorandum of Understanding

The California High Speed Rail Authority recently added to its website the text of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will soon be signed with the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB, a.k.a. Caltrain).

This document, hammered out by the two parties, establishes an "initial organizational framework" whereby the PCJPB and CHSRA become partners in the planning, design and construction of improvements to the Caltrain corridor. The CHSRA already approved it at their March 5th board meeting; approval by the Caltrain board of directors is expected at their next meeting on April 2nd.

The MOU lays out some key points of understanding:
  • A new Program Director, reporting to both the Caltrain and HSR executive directors (Michael Scanlon and Carrie Pourvahidi, respectively) will coordinate and oversee the work of the staffs and engineering consultants of the two parties.
  • Caltrain will continue to operate during HSR construction.
  • The needs of Caltrain must be considered, including the ability to operate 8 trains per hour in each direction (as already set forth in the Caltrain 2025 plan).
  • The peninsula corridor and all existing improvements belong solely to the PCJPB.
The MOU is also interesting for what it does not spell out:
  • How and to what extent will the two organizations (governing boards & staff) be integrated?
  • Who will pay for what?
  • Who will be liable for what?
  • Who will own what, after the project is completed?
The MOU states that all these things will be planned. As the saying goes, "the planning will continue until we find out why no decisions have been made."

20 comments:

  1. No, actually, Caltrain guys have said that they consider themselves to be the "host" and CHSRA the "guest" on their corridor. Clem, you accurately point out what they don't say in their MOU. They do say they will have four tracks (which we all already knew), but which the rail authority denies as part of it's mantra of "we won't make any decisions for at least a year."

    Another issue is Union Pacific, the 800 lb. gorilla that no one is talking about in these alliances. On this point, let me quote from the original sales contract between the JPB and Southern Pacific: "Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 2.7(b) above, no Intercity Passenger Service
    Trains shall operate on Exclusive Commute Trackage without a written agreement between Owner (JPB) and User (So. Pac.)" That means, UPRR must sign an agreement with Caltrain permitting CHSRA to use the corridor. Have they done this already? Since they object to HSR on their own ROWs, why would they permit HSR to join them on the Caltrain corridor? Isn't that also a safety/liability concern?

    ReplyDelete
  2. High Tech Crossings24 March, 2009 13:34

    It is interesting and revealing how sketchy and incomplete the MOU is.

    With the coming of HSR and electrification, it is becoming more clear that Caltrain is planning to abandon its successful "Baby Bullet" express service and rely on all-local EMU service. This is an absurd idea that will cripple the success Caltrain has had with express services. One of BART's biggest system design flaws is its inability to run express service, sapping longer-distance runs with endless stops. Why must Caltrain willingly cripple itself with the service quality of BART, when it can vastly exceed what BART has to offer?? While the all-local service with electrified light-weight equipment will be faster between stops than the current all-local service, it will actually be slower service than the current diesel Baby Bullets. This is a regression for Caltrain.

    Why? I think CHSRA wants that Baby Bullet ridership for itself, relegating Caltrain to an all-local feeder service. This is why CHSRA wants its own set of tracks all to itself, since it's going to be running the inter-regional service AND the express commuter service. CHSRA has been promoting wildly optimistic and unrealistic ridership numbers which don't even correlate with the current total SF-LA market. An open secret is that the intra-regional travel demand is much, much bigger than the inter-regional travel demand. CHSRA wants the regular Baby Bullet ridership numbers to bolster its own ridership claims, which are otherwise very weak.

    The claim that CHSRA would be running 8-12 tph into the Transbay Terminal was always absurd, if you were assuming that these were inter-regional trains to Southern California. Even if HSR was widely popular, the density of demand for inter-regional travel simply isn't there. HSR from SF to LA would likely be going 1 tph during the off-peak and 2 tph during the peak, with a maximum of 4 tph at full build-out peak. And that's the optimistic scenario. Inter-regional HSR trains would be making very light use of its dedicated tracks on the very expensively widened Peninsula ROW.

    While the inter-regional demand is limited, the Baby Bullet has proven over the last five years that the intra-regional demand on the Peninsula is there when the service is good and fast. CHSRA wants to usurp Caltrain in this express market, and this is why CHSRA assumes it will need more space than Caltrain at the Transbay Terminal and trackage all to itself. This also explains the lack of official interest in making Caltrain and CHSRA compatible in terms of platforms and interoperability. Mark my word, if this scenario develops as I think it will, CHSRA will be running more express commuter trains between SF to San Jose (and coming right back) than trains heading all the way to LA.

    Will these CHSRA commutes be any better than an electrified Baby Bullet? No, and that's the dirty little secret. It's a terribly expensive and disruptive way to improve the Peninsula commute service, and the fares will be higher too.

    Why is Caltrain going along with this willingly? I think it has to do with their "beggars can't be choosers" role. They lack political and financial clout, and they are forced to play second fiddle once again. Caltrain was once supposed to be a place-holder for BART on the Peninsula, and now Caltrain's surrendering its successful Baby Bullet express service to CHSRA in assuming the role as subservient all-local feeder.

    ReplyDelete
  3. High Tech Crossing

    I would concur with your theory on what is going on. This feels bad, very bad. Whether you are a Pacheco Pass or Altamonter, a CHSRA apologist or a NIMBY denialist, this is something we all need to figure out. Would this allow HSRA to skim the profits from peak hour baby bullet? Will this raise prices for commuters? Will they convert current baby bullet stations to two platform ones or will route be limited?

    I understand these are operational issues but engineering work is be done in the context of these operational concerns.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @High Tech Crossings

    Perhaps not. In their MOU, the JPB makes it clear that it is THEIR rail corridor. It is clear; to me at least, that CHSRA has no interest in going anywhere other than the Caltrain corridor. That makes it a sellers’ market for Caltrain. They have the rail authority over a barrel. The MOU specifies the deal as one where the rail authority buys the grade separations, electrification and additional two tracks. Caltrain’s contribution will be the corridor itself, but they don’t relinquish ownership.

    Before I leave that point, it seems to me that WE, taxpayers on the Peninsula, own the rail corridor, bought with our tax dollars. And, I think we ought to be collecting use fees, or rent from the rail authority. This will be their train, and they want to run it on OUR corridor. They claim that they will be profitable. Thus, they owe us rent which we can use to amortize the additional costs of alignment solutions that the rail authority refuses to accept.

    Now, about Caltrain’s strategic interests. When they presented their revised schedule several years ago and indicated their intention to electrify, they closed several of the train stations, angering the residents of these towns. At their hearings, and after citizen protests were heard, they indicated that they were migrating away from being a local transit system and moving to become a regional one. The success of the baby bullets, from SJ to SF, encouraged this, and dropping or reducing service to mid-Peninsula low-use stations was part of that evolution. Mid-Peninsula, with stations too close together, especially was a loser for them.

    They talked about the Dumbarton rail project as an attempt to reach the East Bay, and going south to Monterey as part of their regional outreach. Was this their attempt to begin to compete with BART as the principal regional carrier? I don’t know. Nor do I understand how HSR blends into their strategic plans, other than footing the tab for the grade seps. and other “improvements.” However, when you talk with Caltrain people, they do see themselves in charge of this whole development operation.

    "the planning will continue until we find out why no decisions have been made."
    Thanks, for that Clem. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @ high tech crossings -

    CHSRA is not a railroad, they're a planning body. They are not going to be running any HSR trains, ever.

    If PCJPB decides it wants to run some Caltrain HiSpeed trains between Gilroy and San Francisco's Transbay Terminal, they can reserve the right to do so. They will need to use dedicated trainsets that support operation at 125mph and level boarding and accept the limit of 5 HSR stations in the corridor.

    These trains would be in addition to the long-distance HSR trains to Merced and SoCal that some other company would operate, using trainsets capable of speeds as high as 220mph.

    For whatever reason, everybody seems to think that Caltrain = commuter rail = 79mph max. Forever. Who made that decision?

    @ Martin Engel -

    the typical transaction when someone else wants to lay tracks on your ROW is a straight sale. In this particular context, the idea was that the payment would be in kind, rather than cash.

    At the time the contract was signed in 1991, SP still operated its own intercity services (or at least thought it might again one day) so the clause was intended primarily to keep Caltrain for allowing a competitor of SP's in on the action.

    However, afaik, the contract was never amended. Still, a judge probably wouldn't give UPRR a veto against HSR on the basis of this monopoly clause since the railroad operates no intercity passenger trains of its own.

    At the very least, UPRR will therefore need to be brought in to make sure the additional of HSR service will not interfere with their freight operations, which require a couple 30-minute windows during the day and additional ones at night. Afaik, all of UPRR's customers are located east of the main line, but Clem would probably know that better than I.

    If I'm right, then the simplest way to keep HSR out of UPRR's hair is to run its tracks west of those used by Caltrain locals (i.e. FFSS).

    Note that FFSS would mean a fast northbound train on the HSR tracks would have an aerodynamic interaction with a slow, tall southbound freight train. Amtrak Acela Express has already had to deal with those issues to get FRA clearance to operate.

    Given the low number of freight trains each day, the easiest way to deal with that is to force northbound HSR trains to slow down if so advised by traffic controller - presumably a Caltrain employee - for the ROW.

    Even so, UPRR would be well within its rights to insist on an adequate solution for the safety and liability issues it has raised in the past.

    If one of its trains were to derail and foul the adjacent HSR track, who would be responsible for detecting and communicating that event - hopefully before a passenger train ploughs into the wreckage at high speed? Even if a follow-on accident is avoided, who is liable for the damage, including loss of passenger service revenue? Lawyers with inquiring minds will want the billable hours.

    The reverse case is less likely as HSR derailments are extremely rare. However, no-one can guarantee it won't happen in an earthquake with a nearby epicenter.

    On the plus side, if CHSRA, Caltrain and UPRR can hammer out a technical and legal basis for coexisting, it's possible UPRR will be more willing to negotiate with CHSRA on ROW in other parts of the state. Possible, mind you. Not probable.

    ---

    Side note: FFSS operations would mean northbound HSR and southbound Caltrain locals would end up sharing the existing dual-track tunnels north of Brisbane. Tunnels 3 and 4 will be continue to be used by UPRR for AAR plate F cars during the day. Plate H cars would need to run on new gauntlets tracks, with the overhead catenaries turned off to meet electrical clearance.

    In practice, that would probably mean running noisy autotrack trains in the early hours of the morning, to boost the port of SF's revenue by $2.5 million a year. Maybe.

    CHSRA plans to bore new single tubes to either side of the existing tunnels. The western bore should be used by southbound HSR trains, the eastern one by northbound Caltrain locals. Documents do not yet reflect this because CHSRA apparently hasn't considered UPRR's rights on the corridor.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Rafael

    Re: UPRR's customers

    There are a couple I can think of on the west side of the ROW: Pine Cone Lumber off of MT 4 between CP Hendy and CP Bowers, Cal Stone off of MT 4 also between CP Hendy and CP Bowers. These are both currently served by the Mission Bay Local.

    There is a "team track" at South San Francisco also, on the west side of the ROW. Refrigerated boxcars are occasionally spotted there.

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://hollisterfreelance.com/news/254789-bullet-train-boon-or-bust

    read the bottom part about UP

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Rafael, per the agreement, UPRR allows intercity passenger trains (Amtrak) to operate on PCJPB tracks on a daily basis. I doubt this has anything to do with competitive sensitivities.

    The competitive dynamic between HSR and Caltrain will be interesting-- if I were Caltrain, I would explicitly disallow the high speed rail operator to sell any trips with both end points within the Caltrain corridor (except possibly SF-SJ direct). Why let a for-profit private operator skim your best revenue source while you are forced to operate locals as a subsidized public service?

    ReplyDelete
  9. High Tech Crossings25 March, 2009 01:16

    CHSRA is not a railroad, they're a planning body. They are not going to be running any HSR trains, ever.

    So CHSRA was given $10 billion in state bonds just to plan? If you mean that CHSRA's role is to distribute porky design consulting and construction contracts, you may be closer to CHSRA's true mission, but I think the voters of California intended for CHSRA to run a railroad. CHSRA can award an operating contract to a private firm, but it had better be keeping any operating surplus for the public, who will be paying dearly for this capital infrastructure.

    The Peninsula Commute (now Caltrain) was the last passenger service SP ever ran, and SP most certainly wanted out of the passenger business (hence the formation of Caltrain). SP had no wish to offer its own intercity passenger service in 1991. The legacy railroads learned by the 1950s that passenger service just wasn't making ends meet. Freight isn't picky and doesn't complain.

    I certainly hope that Caltrain will stand up for its interests, but history has shown that outsiders have had to look out for Caltrain's interests precisely because Caltrain was not doing so. BayRail Alliance, formerly Peninsula Rail 2000, was specifically created to advocate for the full potential of Caltrain and the Peninsula ROW just as Caltrain management was driving the service into the ground and "ex"-BART staff were assuming leadership positions in SamTrans and Caltrain to ease the transfer. The BART-SFO disaster ended BART's dream of usurping Caltrain and going down the Peninsula, and the Baby Bullet kicked the snot out of BART's performance and the extravagant Millbrae station's ridership. Even now, I suspect that some at BART and MTC still retain long-term visions of BART encircling the Bay by replacing this all-local Caltrain service, especially if HSR is conveniently segregated on its own tracks.

    ReplyDelete
  10. it seems to me that WE, taxpayers on the Peninsula, own the rail corridor, bought with our tax dollars

    We're the taxpayers of the U.S. We bought and paid for 101, 280, 380... We think since the people of the Peninsula are the main users of those highways, they should pay for them. Do you prefer barrier tolls or an entrance/exit system? Should come out to around 8 cents a mile averaged over the system.

    We're the California High Speed Rail Authority. We have powers of eminent domain. Your commuters could take the bus, we hear they are building a nice new bus terminal near the financial district in San Francisco. Shouldn't be too difficult to add capacity to the highways to do that, you can raise tolls. We only need two tracks for a very efficient high speed service to San Francisco, with a siding or two here and there so freight can get out of our way. We've looked at your books and see that the price you paid for the right of way is dwarfed by the capital improvement grants and operating subsidies the state and federal government have given you over the years. They are working on calculating the interest costs. When you pay that off we can negotiate over the price of your right of way or do you want to come to a reasonable agreement that gives you 20th Century commuter service along with 21st Century Intercity service? Oh and by the way you don't have the rights to intercity service, Union Pacific does and they think our two track plan is just great.

    We're the Union Pacific we looked over the deal you cut in 1991 that gave you a fully assembled right of way very cheap. We noticed that it gives us the right to intercity rail. That rent you have been collecting is ours. We prefer you direct deposit into this account.

    If one of its trains were to derail and foul the adjacent HSR track, who would be responsible for detecting and communicating that event

    They aren't going to be using written train orders and telegraphs to communicate. If the derailment isn't detected by the signaling system and the catenary isn't pulled down - meaning the other trains are still powered - someone on the train crew will be using his radio to contact the control center anyway. He's not going to have to walk to the next station and use the telegraph. Even if they were using telegraphs to communicate the stationmaster at the next station down the line would notice that the 8:16 freight hasn't arrived and telegraph the people up the line that there may be a problem. They would look at their schedules and either stop the trains headed in that direction or give them slow orders. This is something railroads have been doing since... the second locomotive moved onto a track.

    who is liable for the damage, including loss of passenger service revenue

    Railroads lawyers with very sharp quills figured this out a long time ago. The ones who will be working on the agreement could probably do it in their sleep. Things not covered by the agreement have a 150 years of case law to refer to.

    ..FFSS operations...

    Puts the southbound local platform on the northbound express tracks. I'm sure passengers using either will find that disconcerting. I suppose they could put in island platforms for the locals but that means buying many more acres of land all up and down the line. It also means the locals and expresses don't share platforms, so, no cross platform transfers between the local and expresses. Sounds like a plan to me.

    if I were Caltrain, I would explicitly disallow the high speed rail operator to sell any trips with both end points within the Caltrain corridor

    It works the other way with Amtrak and the commuter agencies in the East. The legacy was that any train that stopped at the station had the same ticket price - for coach - as any other train. So your monthly commuter ticket was good for travel on the train traveling between Wash. DC and NY. Amtrak doesn't do that anymore, to any great extent. The intercity operator doesn't want commuters on the train. . . it's really pleasant when the very full northbound HSR arrives in San Jose, 20 people get off and 150 commuters get on. Or at San Francisco the train is standing room only because there are 150 commuters that all get off at San Jose. If they allow it all the fare is going to much higher and local patrons won't use it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. With the coming of HSR and electrification, it is becoming more clear that Caltrain is planning to abandon its successful "Baby Bullet" express service and rely on all-local EMU service.

    Why on earth would you think this? There's no evidence at all. If that were the case, they could just lay 2 hsr tracks right next to the two existing Caltrain tracks, rip out the existing Caltrain passing loops, and operate them as 2 separate systems. Easy, problem solved, no worries about freight/HSR conflicts, etc.

    The whole point of the current (and more complicated) proposal with the two HSR express tracks between the local tracks is so that Caltrain expresses can use them to overtake locals, since Caltrain has explicitly stated that HSR cannot constrain its ability to run expresses.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The competitive dynamic between HSR and Caltrain will be interesting-- if I were Caltrain, I would explicitly disallow the high speed rail operator to sell any trips with both end points within the Caltrain corridor (except possibly SF-SJ direct).

    This is not an uncommon arrangement when you have more than one agency on the same track. Eurostar is not allowed to sell tickets for domestic trips within England, even though it stops at more than one station on the way to the chunnel, so that it doesn't compete with other train operating companies.

    ReplyDelete
  13. if I were Caltrain, I would explicitly disallow the high speed rail operator to sell any trips with both end points within the Caltrain corridor[...]

    In contrast, in advanced, civilized, industrialized, first-world democracies, all operators on the corridor (whether "commuter train", bus, funincular, hovercraft, monorail or ferry) would be required to accept any ticket valid from point A to point B as a basic contractual obligation of being granted operating access in the region.

    Since nearly all HSR passengers going to getting off at Diridon "not yet dead" Memorial Pan-Galactic BART-tastic Grand Central of the West Mega-Station Ultra-Complex Inter-Connect in San Jose rather than visiting the provincial appendage to the north, that means that those 12 HSR trains per hour running to San Francisco are going to have a lot -- a lot -- of empty seats, and it would be stupid not to fill them.

    But no: let's go with the fantastic wonderful Anglophone model, and let's ensure that lots of empty seats are carted around and lots of unnecessary trains are run just because we're too stupid to understand how to do basic accounting, and because we always, always, put the convenience of riders last.

    Ein Ticket für alles, dude.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Since nearly all HSR passengers going to getting off at Diridon....

    Ah that's why there are going to 16 tracks there, four times as many as 125th street, twice as many as Jamaica or almost three times as many as Newark or 60 percent more than 30th Street or a third of Gare du Nord or the same amount as Clapham Junction....

    ReplyDelete
  15. @Richard, that would be even better, yes. The intent is to prevent a private, for-profit operator from skimming the juciest revenue source of a public subsidized operator-- effectively lining the pockets of investors with taxpayer subsidies.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Clem

    "Why let a for-profit private operator skim your best revenue source while you are forced to operate locals as a subsidized public service?"

    It's not clear to me that Caltrain, which is operated by Amtrak, is "forced" to operate locals as a "subsidized public service", it's just that they are so inefficient in operating their business that they need constant subsidy.

    The most promising part of CHSRA's plan is the intention to structure private public partnerships for HSR in California, which (if executed correctly) will remove the need for ongoing public subsidy of HSR.

    As Peninsula residents we should be interested solely in fast, efficient transportation whether it is on Caltrain or HSR--which will largely depend on where we are going.

    If the Caltrain Baby Bullet discovers that it cannot compete with a HSR "local" calling at SJ, Palo Alto, Millbrae, and SF, then everyone benefits: Caltrain stops running an inefficient and subsidized service and HSR gets the passengers who all arrive at their intended destinations more rapidly.

    In reality it is more likely to be a continuum, with only the riders in the biggest hurry or the most price-insensitive who choose HSR locally over Caltrain. With full grade separation and electrification, Caltrain should be able to operate at significantly higher speeds even making more stops than the current Baby Bullet and thus compete well for any local traffic that is price sensitive (like most commuters).

    History is strongly on the side of private rail operators in terms of efficiency and service quality around the globe. Hong Kong's MTR is a good example of how well a regional and metro rail service can be run privately. The problems with public sector control are both ridiculously expensive unionized labor and political decisions about the frequency and location of stops, instead of letting routes be determined by ridership.

    JR East (a private company) in Tokyo operates both shinkansen HSR lines and local trains. Some local routes, like the Yamanote-sen have huge ridership and I do not believe they are subsidized.

    ReplyDelete
  17. For those of us who are enthusiastic about HSR, this MOU between Caltrain and CHSRA is very favorable.

    Caltrain benefits by getting most of their 2025 goals implemented with access to state and federal funding (in much larger amounts than if HSR was not part of the project).

    CHSRA benefits by having a coordinated partnership with the body that controls the SF to SJ to Gilroy right of way.

    This agreement should lead to a vastly improved Caltrain service well before the 2025 timetable (in theory by 2020) as well as a far superior high speed rail option to connect SF to SJ, hopefully with stops at Millbrae/SFO and Palo Alto in between.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Caltrain benefits by getting most of their 2025 goals implemented with access to state and federal funding (in much larger amounts than if HSR was not part of the project).

    Uh, no.

    PBQD and friends benefit most, aided and abetted by the SFCTA, VTA and MTC staff who do their bidding.

    Caltrain, just as it has for the last 30 years, goes to the back of the funding line.

    Utterly corrupt local and regional bodies get to renege on the explicit voter-approved promises they made in their local sales tax and toll plans to fund any Caltrain improvements. (See: RM-2 (Steve Heminger's private slush fund) fraudulently redirected to BART WSX. See VTA sales tax fraudulently redirected to BART SJX. See SFCTA fight and defer Caltrain funding as the PBQD-promoted Central Subway digs a deeper and deeper and deeper black hole.)

    Basically: we somehow hope that the tooth fairy will come in fund all that stuff we said we honestly truly said we were going to do. Good luck! And if it means that, well, no Caltrain service gets to run to Transbay Terminal or that Quentin's buddy Mehdi (or next-up, after an "exhaustive global search", Gene Skoropowski) gets to have complete control over the type of service on the Caltrain corridor, or -- say it isn't so! -- that the money never comes through or we reallocate it all to the vital BART SJX "connecting service" or we blow it all constructing a three level rail megaplex at Didiron "not yet dead" Memorial Station or cities up and down the Peninsula suddenly and completely spontaneously happen to pass VTA-backed resolutions opposing intrusive non-BART rail constructions in their back yards (see: Fremont, Fremont again, Livermore, Dublin, etc) or we encounter "unexpected" construction blowouts between Gilroy and Los Banos, well, them's the breaks. I mean, who could have imagined it? Too bad, but these things happen sometimes. What are the odds lightning would strike you guys three times in a row! Bummer! Try again and apply for stimulus funding in 2060, we're sure to put in a good word for you then. But at least you guys have a nice shiny MOU to admire! You can paste it up next to your shiny copies of MTC resolution 1876 and MTC resolution 3434!

    This happened in the 1980s, it happened in the 1990s (at the direct behest of Quentin "BART to Millbrae" Kopp), and there's no reason to doubt history will repeat itself in the 2000s -- after all, exactly the same cast of characters (or their clones, in the MTC Dahms-Heminger "mini me" case) are involved.

    ReplyDelete
  19. High Tech Crossings27 March, 2009 10:47

    Richard is quite correct in pointing out that the same cast of characters is at work yet again. The same disappointing results can be expected. Don't ever say you weren't warned! When is Accountability coming to town???

    Eric, I think you just need to read between the lines about the Caltrain/HSR plans. Caltrain talks of sharing the ROW and the corridor with CHSRA, but I have never seen explicit mention of sharing actual tracks. CHSRA has repeatedly said they will have dedicated tracks, and they have always hedged and fudged when asked where the "Baby Bullet" will go. Caltrain does say that "Caltrain EMUs will be compatible with high speed trains, which will operate on the Caltrain corridor in the future," but what about the plan for HSR and Caltrain using different platform heights? I think the "compatibility" Caltrain is really talking about is Caltrain's all-local feeders having timed schedules to coincide with the arrival of CHSRA commuter expresses. Bye-bye, Baby Bullet.

    One very curious diagram can be found on the January 2009 handout on Caltrain 2025. This handout can also be found on the link in Clem's main post.
    http://www.caltrain.com/pdf/project2025/Caltrain2025handout_Jan2009.pdf

    The diagram entitled "How Vehicle Type Affects Train Service" explains how "EMUs can serve more stations without adding to passengers' total travel time." The diagram shows three types of service, and the diagram is supposed to show that electrified light-weight vehicles (EMUs) can cover 21 stops along the SF-SJ corridor in the same time frame as regular electric locomotives can cover 17 stops and the diesel Baby Bullet can cover 14 stops. OK, I understand that EMUs have good acceleration between stops, but the conceit is that the current diesel Baby Bullet doesn't make 14 stops!!!! The current Baby Bullet makes on average 5 stops between SF and SJ, for a total of 7 stops, which means it is faster than the proposed all-local EMUs. So why on earth did Caltrain make this foolish comparison with the Baby Bullet making 14 stops? The Baby Bullet is an express service -- it's not supposed to make many stops. Baby Bullet EMUs would be even faster than the diesel service. Caltrain neglects to point out that Baby Bullet EMUs would be just as fast as CHSRA's service over the equivalent number of stops. This is the elephant in the middle of the room, quietly ignored.

    Why? CHSRA and its contractor friends want to build, build, build. CHSRA also wants both the ridership and revenue from these express commutes to help it make an operating profit at the expense of Caltrain's bottom line. Of course, the capital cost of additional grade-separated, dedicated tracks will be immense, but that's conveniently ignored.

    Some might say that it doesn't matter whether CHSRA or Caltrain is offering the express commutes along the Peninsula corridor, but it matters a great deal. As Clem pointed out, a premium fare can be charged for express services, so the public transit operator (Caltrain) is deprived of this valuable revenue while it still must provide the local feeder service to support the expresses. CHSRA's private operator will be 'cherry-picking' the most lucrative services, while requiring Caltrain to provide the less cost-efficient feeder services. It's the BART/AC Transit controversy all over again. Furthermore, the current Baby Bullet fares are still subsidized, while CHSRA's private operator is supposed to be turning an operating profit. This means CHSRA commute fares will be much higher, perhaps twice as high.

    The CHSRA website has the fare from SF to Millbrae at $8, while the current Caltrain fare is $4.25 for the same route. And this is CHSRA's idealistic fare scheme where SF-LA is only $55!

    ReplyDelete