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Posted on March 18 at 4:24 p.m.
Nick, keep writing about the 101 drama, and more people will get the idea for moving forward with the commuter rail plan that is already funded in Measure ACommuter rail will be on the agenda at tomorrow's SBCAG meeting, with a plan that's been proposed before - re-timing the Surfliner for commuters.While it's good to see it in the mix again - without political will - nothing will happen. It may take total gridlock on the 101 to get rail moving.The commuters who now sit in traffic every day have only to look at the empty Union Pacific tracks next to the 101, and wonder how the U.S. is at the cutting edge of technology, but we literally can't get out of our own way on the highways we built, that our government thought would take care of all of our mobility needs.
On 101 Fight Flares Anew
Posted on October 8 at 11:08 p.m.
The challenge to the EIR is right on point, and takes me back to the 101 In Motion work that I was part of. Those who were there may remember the consultants words, which still ring in my ears.It went something like this, "When the 3rd lane south of Milpas is finished, the added volume of traffic will overwhelm the area north of Milpas, and the solution would be to add a 4th lane north of Milpas"
That would be the solution for those who only know road based solutions. For too long transportation planning has been under the control of those Einstein would call insane. Makes sense, if you consider those who want to do the same thing over and over (add lanes) and expect a different result (smoother traffic flow). There are other ways to move people, as 101 In Motion has shown, and some were incorporated into Measure A.
Remember Train & Lane? but what happened to the train? For the next 15+ years commuters from the south are expected to endure the continuous road construction 101 widening will bring.Would it not make sense to get the commuter rail that Measure A promised up and running? Is there no political will to do something sensible? or are we at the mercy of the "insane" transportation planners? Maybe its time to get behind this challenge to the EIR for a seriously flawed 101 widening plan - we've been given an opportunity here!
On Freeway Widening All Jammed Up
Posted on June 25 at 11:50 a.m.
Great comment, Ken: "Most modern civilized cities have a regional rail system"
The U.S. has allowed Laissez-faire economics to dictate how we get around, i.e., predominantly by the automobile.
Think about the lobbyists for transportation modes, and who has all the power (money) to advocate for their interests.
The auto makers, road builder related interests, oil companies, etc. have the gold and make the rules, right?
So who’s left to advocate for more passenger rail service? The government thru Amtrak operates most of the rail service.
The Congress is constantly attacking the $1.2B per year that it costs to operate Amtrak, and both sides of the aisle join in the attack.
So that leaves the advocacy to organizations like NARP and RailPAC, who run on small budgets with donations from the public and little else.
Passenger rail is considered a public good in most of the world, and in turn, even the poorest countries have better service than the U.S.
Japan has had High Speed Rail since 1964, 50 years ago! and the U.S. is cutting edge? China is quickly building a High Speed Rail System as we speak, and we continue to argue about its relevance!
When the railroad companies were allowed to divest themselves of their passenger service, Amtrak was born (1971) and it’s been downhill ever since.
It’s instructive to note that the first board of Amtrak was populated by people from the railroad companies, who own the rights of way, and whose primary interest is hauling freight, and the result is an anti passenger rail culture that's been allowed to fester!
On Where Rail & Road Cross
Posted on June 16 at 12:02 p.m.
Our coastal corridor is not part of the CAHSR (California High Speed Rail) program. The High Speed Rail route is already set to go from the LA area up through the high desert and on toward Fresno, terminating in the Bay Area. It will not come through our area.
There is an additional Amtrak train in planning, known as the Coast Daylight, that would follow the same route as the Coast Starlight does now. To give you an idea of how difficult Union Pacific Rail Road is to deal with, the Coast Daylight has been in planning for close to 20 years.
UPRR continually throws obstacles in the way of the Daylight's running. The Ventura-Santa Barbara Commuter Rail Service has been in planning for over 10 years and there is funding for the service in Measure A 2008.
UPRR uses everything in the book to keep additional passenger trains off their tracks, particularly "modeling", which they require over and over again. Once modeling of a new service is done, they punch holes in it until it becomes out of date, and new modeling is required.
UPRR should realize that the Federal Government had a reason for passing a law that private railroad company's must allow passenger trains to operate on their tracks. The government gave the railroads the land to build their empires, and now they think they can ignore the needs of the people whose land they were given.
Posted on May 8 at 10:57 p.m.
While the automobile has become the default transportation mode in America, Laissez-faire economies like ours that have allowed that are not the norm around the world, and in turn why one can find a more than adequete rail service available in even the poorest countries. The cabal of oil, auto makers, and road builders have shaped the auto centric milieu we have in the U.S.. While lobbyists for these interests move big dollars to the politicians, where are the dollars to buy the influence to improve passenger rail service?Since the government operates the bulk of passenger rail thru Amtrak, there are no dollars coming their way for passenger rail, so there is no impetus for politicians to improve passenger rail service. That's why both sides of the aisle show little interest in passenger rail, but are quick to complain about the subsidy required to maintain the marginal rail service that's available. The subsidies for road and air travel are enormous, but hard to put your finger on. It comes in different forms, from property tax to gas tax, but they add up to tens of billions per year.Point is, it's not a level playing field, and until that changes the status quo will prevail. But if you know what's wrong, you will never give up the fight!
On Trains, Trains, Trains
Posted on June 8 at 9:52 a.m.
Summer, the "why" is the key to understanding how we end up with an environment we don't like. Just as the frog in the pot doesn't notice the heat being turned up, the "unintended" consequences of widening one portion of the 101 leads to problems down the road - known to some, but not to most of us. Thanks to Nick ferreting this out, now more of us are informed about the future consequences of widening south of Milpas leading to congestion problems north of Milpas.
On Highway 101: Big Fix, Big Problems
Posted on June 7 at 7:56 p.m.
Nick has opened the Pandora's box with this one.When the 101 In Motion work concluded (which resulted in the 101 widening project now being executed), there was one little problem that was shelved. As Nick points out, the third lane will allow the carrying capacity to increase by 2000 cars. The inevitable increase in traffic will overtax the existing portion of the 101 north of Milpas, and the study's statistics showed the existing 3 lanes north of Milpas would need to be increased to 4 lanes! Well, as you might imagine, there was no reason to go any further, because there's no way that would happen. There are a number of other parts of the final plan that would help lessen the need for driving, including a commuter rail service for the Ventura commuters. It's the best bang for the buck and would be the perfect mitigation the planning commissioners could call for in exchange for their approval. It's reprehensible that the special study was omitted, and future impacts weren't directly addressed in the 101 In Motion Final Report. However, those who were involved with the 101 In Motion Study heard what I heard, and this is exactly what Nick is talking about.Check out the 101 In Motion Final Report at: http://www.sbcag.org/PDFs/publication...
Posted on May 11 at 11:32 a.m.
As we know, there are no government run businesses able to stand on their own. The concept Is inherently flawed because it always becomes political. Roads are a government run operation, and with the Highway Act of 1956, passenger rail was dealt its final blow as a competitive mode. Since private entities own most of the countries rail network, government is reluctant to invest the money needed to make it viable for passenger use. And, just as the government has no energy plan, there is also no national strategy for transportation......except to put the majority of transportation dollars into roads.....where the big dollars from special interests are.
On Train or Lane?
Posted on May 10 at 7 p.m.
Whether the locomotive is in front or back, the engineer controls the locomotive from the front. It's common practice, and the safety record of passenger trains in either push or pull configuration is excellent.
Posted on May 23 at 9:37 a.m.
At issue is the imbalance in modal options, and that train service at peak hours would be an equalizer. Much is said about whether people would ride the train, but statistics show that at least 10% of commuters on parallel highways will make the switch. With 20,000 daily commuters, 2000 would be the market share, and that would help ease the strain on the roads. Not just on the 101, but the local streets, where cars already forage for parking, while using precious energy and polluting the environment. When the third lane is finished statistics show the additional capacity would quickly be filled, bringing even more cars to local streets.
On Every Dog Has Its Day