On Transportation Column: July 11 back-from-vacation-catch-up edition

The Orange Line Extension in Chatsworth. Photo by Gary Leonard for Metro.

I decided to flee town for a week of vacation because I didn’t believe much would be happening in early July, especially with Independence Day falling on a Wednesday. And — surprise!! — I was only 110 percent wrong. Whoopsydoodle.

I knew in advance I would miss the Orange Line Extension’s debut, which was scheduled after I had already planned my vacation. That was strike one.

Second, after two-plus years of partisan bickering, Congress surprisingly (read: amazingly/unbelievably) got its act together enough to pass a two-year transportation spending bill including provisions of the America Fast Forward program advocated by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Metro Board of Directors. Strike two.

Third, the Federal Transit Administration finished its lengthy review of the Regional Connector’s final environmental study and issued a “record of decision,” the bureaucratic term that means not only are the commas in the right place, the project is now also eligible to receive federal dollars. Strike three.

Fourth, the State Legislature voted to sell enough bonds to allow for construction of the first segment of the state’s high-speed rail project, a vote that was — not surprisingly — squeaky close. That one was like falling down the dugout stairs after striking out.

So let’s take a look at some of these issues….

ORANGE LINE EXTENSION: As I’ve written before, grand openings are nice but I’m not sure they tell transit-folk much about the way the project will ultimately be worked into the fabric of everyday life.

With that in mind, I’m curious to hear your initial impressions of the line and how it’s working (hopefully) or not working for you. Comment please — whether you’re using the bus or parallel bike lane.

CONGRESS ACTS!: I think the passage of a two-year federal transpo bill was decidedly mixed news. Yes, it’s great that the bill greatly expands the TIFIA loan program for transit projects — a key part of America Fast Forward and a big victory for Metro and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

But in recent times federal multi-year bills have usually gone at least four years. Congress approved six-year bills in both 1991 and 1997 and a four-year bill in 2005, which beginning in 2009 was extended nine times while Congress bickered over the two-year bill burped forth last week.

It’s hardly a secret that the problem this time around was that Republicans in the House of Representatives insisted on funding cuts to some bike and pedestrian programs and unpopular/unrelated provisions such as approval of the Keystone oil pipeline. Even with bipartisan support for a bill in the Senate, the House had leverage to sit until they got some of the things they wanted.

As anyone who reads this blog or other transportation blogs knows, two years is a blip of time in transpo-land, where it takes many years to plan and build projects. Two years is definitely not a long-term approach. The new bill really just pushes the next big fight over federal transportation policy past this year’s presidential election to the midterm elections in 2014, which should be quite contentious no matter who is ordering late-night custom sandwiches in the White House (a huge benefit of the job, IMO).

In other words, it could be quite some time until we have any kind of long-term vision for transportation policy in a nation that has long celebrated its mobility, whether it be by foot, horse, canal, steamboat, railroad, highway or bicycle. It also means that the November elections to control Congress take on added importance for those who care about transpo issues.

As for Mssrs. Romney and Obama, I’m probably like many of you: It’s hard to pay attention to a campaign that has seemingly been underway forever, is basically one big pile of rhetoric and still has nearly four long months to go. Despite the number of microphones and notebooks put before both men, neither have said much about their vision for America’s cities or transportation. Nor is anyone in the Fourth Estate really forcing them to talk about it.

Both presidential candidates say they want to put people to work. They just don’t want to talk about how people will get to those jobs. Disappointing, but par for the course in Content Free America.

PITY THE FRENCH!: A story in the Times earlier this week basically sided with SNCF, the French railway operator hoping to land some work planning the California bullet train. Of course, SNCF wasn’t going to work for free — this was a business opportunity, not an altruistic endeavor.

The gist of the story is that SNCF at some point had proposed a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco that would follow the 5 freeway, which runs along the western side of the San Joaquin Valley. Such a route would likely be less expensive to build than the one that has been adopted that instead runs from L.A. to the Antelope Valley and then over/under Tehachapi Pass to run along the eastern side of the Valley, more or less following the 99 freeway.

If you’ve ever driven the 5 and 99 freeways through the Valley and managed to stay awake, you may have noticed a difference between the two roads: almost no one lives near the 5 (the last In-N-Out is at the Kettleman City exit, a long ways from anywhere), whereas the 99 runs through very populated cities such as Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno and Merced.

These are not small cities. Bakersfield has about 347,000 people and Fresno about 510,000 and that’s not counting the entire metro areas. Those people are taxpayers who are helping pay for the train and it basically makes no sense to skip these towns if the idea is to connect the state’s population centers. Why build the train if it just benefits San Francisco and L.A.?

Robert Cruickshank at the California High Speed Rail blog has a thorough take-down of the Times article, which managed to get a lot of traction around the state from other media that depend on reading newspapers for their content.

It’s certainly fair game for journalists to make clear all the proposals that have been on the table — and all those contractors that sought work and taxpayer dollars for their work.
But the tone of the Times’ article intimates that something wrong or crooked occurred when, in fact, it may be just the opposite: common sense prevailed and the train was routed through cities.

REGIONAL CONNECTOR: Make no mistake, the fate of the Regional Connector is somewhat tied to high-speed rail, with the Connector budgeted to receive more than $100 million from the high-speed rail bonds.

That’s because of a deal struck in 2008: the $9.95-billion in high-speed rail bonds included $950 million for projects that help improve access to the bullet train. In Southern California, the Connector is one of those projects because it would tie together the Blue, Gold and Expo lines in downtown L.A., making it easier for many Metro passengers to reach Union Station, which will serve the high-speed train.

The Connector has an estimated cost of $1.3 billion but is only due to receive $160 million from Measure R. The reason: at the time that Measure R was approved by voters, the Connector was still in the planning stage and the decision had yet to be made to make it a fully underground line in downtown, thereby increasing its cost.

As a result, the Connector needs every last cent it can get from a variety of sources. The federal New Starts program will be the largest pot of money, but the high-speed rail money is critical to the Connector and a big reason to cheer the Legislature’s decision to spend some of the high-speed rail money.

TRIPLE BUS RACKS: I’ve been the recipient of more than a few complaints from Metro customers that the double bike racks on Metro buses are often filled, resulting in cyclists having to wait for the next bus to come along. If you’re a cyclist and trying to use transit, it’s more than a little annoying — especially when putting a triple-rack on a bus doesn’t seem quite as daunting as, say, sending people to Mars.

On that note, here’s a letter from a member of the Assembly to Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition. Without editorializing, let’s just say the letter demonstrates that getting anything done in the Legislature is not exactly easy.

Speaking of transportation, the 4th of July parade in Bend featured a flying chihuahua. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

CAN BEND, OREGON, TEACH LOS ANGELES COUNTY ANYTHING?: I spent last week in Bend, Oregon, the outdoorsy hub along the Deschutes River in central Oregon. It’s completely unfair, of course, to compare a city of 81,000 or so to Los Angeles County but here are a few observations:

•The city has arguably over-invested in parks for a city its size. The Deschutes River runs through town and is lined with parks, including Drake Park in downtown — which I think may be one of the loveliest urban parks I’ve seen in the United States.

Bend has about 2,375 acres (or 3.7 square miles) of parks or open space, which works out to 29 acres or so per 1,000 people. That’s more than many western cities and, of course, contributes greatly to the quality of life in Bend — and is perhaps a big reason for the town’s considerable growth in the past decade.

Parks don’t really generate revenue or pay for themselves. In this sense, the same can be said about transit in most parts of the U.S. — it’s a subsidized enterprise. But transit, like parks, increases the quality of life of a region and I think does impact the local economy even when it’s hard to demonstrates.

•Bend loves its traffic circles. While most major intersections in the city still have traditional stop lights, many intersections involving two-lane roads (i.e. one lane in both directions) have roundabouts.

And they’re great and appear to be working. I didn’t drive much after arriving in town, but I rarely had to come to a full stop at a traffic circle. And the traffic circles sure beat four-way stop signs that I find plastered around Pasadena, even in places where roundabouts have been built. If you want to burn a lot of gasoline, build a four-way stop intersection in a place it’s not needed, people.

That said, the traffic circles in Bend were a little trickier on a bike, my preferred transit mode in Bend (the town is rife with bike lanes along with parks). With cars entering the circle from four directions, a cyclist needs a head on a swivel.

•Even in a bike-friendly town, getting people out of their cars is difficult. How so? In compact, bike-lanes-are-everywhere Bend, about 74 percent of workers drive alone to work. That’s compared to 70 percent in Los Angeles County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

I suspect there’s a few issues at play here. One is that Bend has real winters with cold and snow. Another is that while Bend has managed to preserve its downtown as a vibrant place, most of the city’s big chain stores and offices aren’t in downtown. The stores, for example, are located on one of those yucky auto-centric commercial strips that plague cities across modern America.

The other big issue, which is the same issue everywhere: people can afford cars, find them convenient and fuel remains inexpensive enough to purchase.

•Speaking of bike lanes, the town built one along a freeway-like section of U.S. 97 going through town and then put a sidewalk along the freeway. The bike lane, unbelievably, requires cyclists to cross both on- and off-ramps, which makes it perhaps the WORST DESIGNED BIKE LANE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, IMO. By comparison, the sidewalk just seemed plain cruel.

On a related note, on the drive home I couldn’t help but notice signs along Interstate 5 south of Mt. Shasta indicating that drivers should share the road with cyclists — even in portions where the road had hardly any shoulder (including bridges over the Sacramento River). What the what? This is in a section of the 5 that descends steadily and often steeply between Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake but it turns out that bikes are allowed on portions of the 5 in which there are no alternate routes available.

Look, I understand the intention here. I’m a cyclist. But there are places in this world in which I firmly believe motorists and cyclists have no business co-mingling for the sake of everyone’s safety. And Interstate 5 south of Mt. Shasta is one of them.

BEND’S BREWERIES: One final note. The microbrew industry set up shop in the Pacific Northwest long ago and in particular Portland. It has since spread to Bend, something the town has encouraged as a way to create attractions (most of the breweries are attached to restaurants) and jobs via a local industry.

And it’s great, especially because most of the brewpubs are easily walkable and the food is terrific. If you like beer, here are a few recommendations: Mike-Saw-Sasquatch Ale at 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Twilight Summer Ale or White Chainbreaker IPA at Deschutes Brewery, Ruby Ale at McEnamins (it’s heavy on raspberries but good) and High Desert Hefeweizen at Bend Brewing Co., which I would gladly serve my hockey team if I could get it here; lighter beer goes down and stays down better when dehydrated after hard-fought no-checking lower-division adult games. Go Puckalolos!

24 replies

  1. While I think the Regional Connector is one of the most important projects in LA and hope it does get all the pennies from anywhere it can, I also question whether it will truly make it easier for anyone to reach Union Station.

    Of course, final operations decisions are a long way off, but as I understand it, the plan is to run Pasadena-Long Beach and Santa Monica-East LA (my preference would be to run Pasadena-Santa Monica, but only because I work in Culver City and know a ton of people who need to get to USC and Culver City off the Expo Line from commuter trains at Union Station, whereas I think most blue line travel is TO downtown in the mornings, rather than from Union Station to South LA–but that’s a side note).

    In the current planned scenario…
    • Pasadena riders will reach Union Station the same as they do now.
    • Long Beach riders will have an easier time reaching Union Station–just stay on the train as it passes 7th/Metro.
    • Santa Monica riders will still have to transfer (to Red/Purple at 7th, or the the Pasadena-bound train at any other connector stop), so it’s effectively just as easy as it would be without the connector.
    • East LA riders will actually have a more difficult time reaching Union Station, because those trains will now head into Downtown rather than north to Union Station, they’ll have to transfer at Little Tokyo.

    I guess it could be said that those in Downtown along 2nd Street will have improved access because the connector stations may be closer to them than the current Red Line stations.

    Like I said, it’s certainly one of the most important projects for the way it completely integrates our rail system and improved regional mobility, especially for those traveling THROUGH downtown or into the center of it, but it doesn’t exactly improve access to Union Station, which sits at the edge of Downtown and won’t be connected by all of the lines running through the connector.

    • Hi Steve;

      Good points. I do think it makes Union Station a little easier to reach for most riders. The wildcard in the equation is whether Metro sticks with the operating plan as drawn up. I have no reason to think otherwise, but it’s still seven years until the planned opening of the Connector and the project certainly gives the agency the flexibility to operate a variety of routes.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. The inherent flaw is that the Regional Connector does very little to improve mobility for the rest of Angelinos. Not everyone lives in the suburbs and works in Downtown LA. Not every Angelino goes to Union Station every day, nor do they go to the Staples Center everyday either.

    LA is a diverse city with varying degrees of transit and commuting patterns. There are people who live in South LA and work in factories in Vernon. There are people who live in Culver City that go to USC. There are those that live in East LA who may have a job three stations away on the Gold Line.

    The existing planning and fare structure leaves such short distance transit needs and commuting patterns in the dust. No one is going to be willing to pay $900/yr in monthly passes if it’s a short distance away even though it can be reached on one ride on a bus or train.

    Speaking on the LA Transit Corridor, does Metro really believe they can convince those living near LAX and have jobs near there to start forking over $900/yr in monthly passes for the sake of commuting within a five mile radius?

    The Regional Connector is nice, but is a hardly a silver bullet in solving transit issues and financial troubles in LA. LA is unlike any other city in the US; we have lots of residential, commercial, industrial, and tourism areas scattered all over this city, which in turn creates a diversity of transit patterns that cannot be attained with a single flat rate fare policy.

    With that in mind, it is useless to rely on a “everyone wants to go into Downtown LA and let’s focus our attention on that” philosophy.

    The Regional Connector is nice, but a major fare reform is needed big time first in order to entice people to actually start using mass transit to fit the needs of the varying transit patterns that LA has.

    • Hi Frank;

      I disagree. Downtown Los Angeles has the largest concentration of jobs in the region and the Connector will make it easier for many people to reach their jobs via Metro’s light rail system because it eliminates the necessary transfers at Union Station or 7th/Metro. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Connector used by both short-range and long-range commuters.

      I also don’t think you’re speaking for all commuters in your frequent posting about the fare structure and what people are willing to pay to travel particular distances on transit via single rides or passes.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. People tend to forget that the Connector is not just for long-haul commutes like Pasadena – Long Beach and East LA – Santa Monica, but also for people who live in South Park going to Chinatown or Little Tokyo to Staples Center. Right now, a person in South Park needs to take Blue to 7th, transfer to Red/Purple to Union Station and then transfer to Gold to Chinatown. Is that efficient service when living in the middle of the city? It would also take 3 trains to get from Little Tokyo to Staples Center, a distance of 2.5 miles. The Connector will make getting around in/near downtown, where the the most dense concentration of workers and residents live.

    The only people on the Connector that lose current direct access to Union Station is the East LA Gold Line riders (people who currently go from East LA to Union Station). No difference to Santa Monica to Union Station riders, as pointed above. Currently, most people who ride Gold Line eastside want to go INTO downtown, so it will be more convenient for the majority of Gold Line Eastside riders. That’s why the 30/330 are still popular bus lines, because it’s directly from East LA to downtown, unlike the current Gold Line Eastside service.

  4. Steve,

    Okay, let’s start with your view.

    “If you lived and worked within a five mile radius, will you be willing to pay $900/yr in transit passes, or will you just ride a bicycle or learn how to ride a scooter?”

    • Hi Frank;

      I’d probably do as I do now and use a combination of driving, bike and transit to get around and would either buy passes or single rides. I expect many other car owners such as myself have found that while transit is hardly free in L.A. County, using it can also reduce the cost of car ownership through savings on gas, depreciation, maintenance, parking and insurance (if you keep your mileage low enough).

      On a broader level, and I’ve said this before, I think the chance of Metro or any other large transit agency greatly reducing fares for short rides is not likely for a host of reasons. One of them is the problem of getting people to TAP in and out on buses and equipping buses for this. Another is financial — at this point, I don’t see any agencies that believe that lowering fares will result in the kind of vast ridership increases that will cover the cost of cutting fares.

      The kind of distance-based fares you propose are not a terrible idea and I think it’s likely that distance-based fares for rail will be studied and/or considered at some point down the road by Metro. But you have to ask yourself why distance-based fares haven’t been widely adopted around the country and I don’t think the answer is that agencies are all stupid or short-sighted. Perhaps the answer has to due with the fact that running transit systems is an expensive proposition and therefore riders have to pay some of the cost.

      You can keep writing the same comment over and over and I’ll post most of them. But at some point it just turns the comments board into an echo chamber that fewer and fewer people will want to read.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. @Frank M,

    Recently I have taken the Gold Line 1 stop (and back) and gladly paid the fare. It is a walkable distance in my case, but it was the most convieniant method of travel. It saved me time over walking or biking the distance (carrying something a bit akward to boot), it also beats the heat better than walking or biking. It saved me the hassle of parking at the destination end (and maybe paying for metered parking).

    I also have taken Metro for a “single stop” distance when picking up my car from it’s ‘well baby check-up’. I drop the car off, take the curtesy shuttle back home. When they call that it is ready, I grab the Metro and then walk the remaining 4 blocks.

    It is useful for short distances on a per ride basis.

    Back when I was a student rode the bus on a student pass, hopping on the bus for a short trip was a no brainer. It was common for students to take the quick ride down to the mall and back on the street that had 4 lines running on it (and now there is a Rapid line that starts at the school.)

  6. Steve,

    I disagree.

    From what I gather from your rebuttal, I get the underlying tone that “from Metro’s standpoint, transit needs for people who commute to Downtown LA are more important than people who have jobs elsewhere in the city, so everyone else’s transit needs, please still stick to the car as we could care less.”

    In other words, people who have nice office jobs in skyscrapers in Downtown LA are more important to transit in LA.

    The rest of the Angelinos, who have jobs at factories in Vernon, who work or near LAX, cashiers at Vons and Ralphs all across LA, burger flippers at In-N-Out and Carl’s Jr., faculty members and students at many of our schools across LA, motion picture film workers working at movie studios, owners and employees of small business owners scattered throughout Southern California, doctors and nurses at many of our hospitals all over LA, etc. are pretty much still left to commute with cars.

    I’m sorry, Downtown LA may have the highest density of jobs, but if it’s the rest of LA vs Downtown LA, the number of jobs in the rest of LA far outweighs the number of jobs in Downtown LA.

    Has there been any solid study to show how transit patterns in LA really are? Majority of the cars on the roads today aren’t just going into Downtown LA. If Metro is really committed to reducing car dependency, they need to think why most people in LA are still driving from home to work (which is not Downtown LA).

  7. Orange Line Extension Thoughts

    At the Grand Opening, I noticed the huge development of housing that already exists and is under construction just behind the platform heading north at Canoga.

    However, i dont see any meaningful accessway besides walking over 1/4 mile around several streets to access the station. It appears to be transit-adjacent-development that missed the most important part: easy accessway. If a small piece of the wall next to the station (at the southern end of the platform that heads north to Chatsworth) was knocked out and about 10 stairs/handicap ramp put in; then this housing could be as close as 50 feet from the platform.

    With all the time that Metro and private developers have to think about these things, why is the most obvious operational piece missing? Is it a Metro issue or private developer issue with regard to providing meaningful access. If the developer has a problem with access, it should not get the tax and parking subsidies that it receives by calling itself “TOD”.

    Thoughts?

    • Hi Seth;

      Good point. I’m unaware of the particular development, although I don’t believe this is a TOD being co-developed by Metro. In this case, I would suggest it was probably an oversight on the part of everyone involved. On a more generic level, I certainly encourage everyone — from residents to developers to city planning departments — to carefully consider transit connections when buying property or entitling developments.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. It seems to me that LA — like most big cities — is focused upon neighborhood/suburb-to-downtown routes, at some expense to neighborhood/suburb-to-neighborhood/suburb routes. But I don’t know that it is significantly worse here than in Chicago, NY, Philly, etc. Actuall, some of the current projects have some emphasis upon crosstown types (like myself) who seldom do anything in downtown LA. E.g., the Crenshaw Line and Green Line extension have no direct effect on transit to downtown. One of the best things about the Regional Connector will be its facilitation of going THROUGH Downtown. I have a board meeting monthly in West LA (I line in West Orange County) and it helps immensely that (after driving to the Blue Line), I can switch to the Expo Line (at Pico Station) and take that to a short bus ride to my destination.

    • Hi Mike;

      I think you raise an excellent point about cross-town routes and neighborhood-to-neighborhood connections. It’s a challenge everywhere and perhaps more so in L.A. where the job base is so spread out.

      I think some of the other rail projects are helping address that — even while their main purpose is to connect to downtown. A few examples: folks who use the Red Line to commute between the Valley and Hollywood, the Expo Line between Culver City and USC and (eventually) the Gold Line Foothill Extension that will allow for foothill commuters to more easily reach Pasadena.

      Best,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. “That’s because of a deal struck in 2008: the $9.95-million in high-speed rail bonds included $950 million for projects…”

    I think you mean $9.95-billion instead of million, Steve. Also, WELCOME BACK!!!

    • Hi Average Joe;

      Thanks — good to be back! And apparently part of my brain dealing with money is still in a Bend brewery. Thanks for catching that — I’ll fix.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. “The kind of distance-based fares you propose are not a terrible idea and I think it’s likely that distance-based fares for rail will be studied and/or considered at some point down the road by Metro. But you have to ask yourself why distance-based fares haven’t been widely adopted around the country and I don’t think the answer is that agencies are all stupid or short-sighted. Perhaps the answer has to due with the fact that running transit systems is an expensive proposition and therefore riders have to pay some of the cost.”

    DC does it and it works pretty darn well.

  11. Cab companies run on a metered distance based system and clearly taxes aren’t used to run private cab companies. Just do that in big scale but a cheaper per price with buses.

  12. I think the idea of a dedicated busway like the Orange line and parts of the Silver line are great ways to connect communities. I think the Orange line accomplished what it could have taken easily 10+ years to bring a better commute to the Valley. However, I think that more needs to be done to advertise and appeal to valley residents to take Metro, and possibly bring more projects like the Orange line to other parts of the Valley.

    That said, I think that the first and foremost thing to do to increase ridership and quality is to increase the frequencies of buses. This may seem a bit biased because I live in the Valley, but I have noticed that many of the SFV bus lines have been chopped and cut up to provide “better” service on other lines. For example: as a result of the latest bus cuts, there is only one local line that qualifies as being “frequent” (line 233) and the only major local bus line that serves NOHO station got its service cut from 15 to 20 minutes midday. Who the heck wants to take the bus to work when the nearest bus only runs every 30 minutes? That is why most people in the Valley resort to using their cars.

    Also on a side note Steve, the 15 minute map is wrong. The new extension to Chatsworth and the branch to Warner Center is advertised to operate every 20 minutes midday, yet it is still on the map, as well as line 224 and 115. Call me a freak, but this is false advertising, considering that map is plastered on every station in the Metro network.

  13. Mike

    “It seems to me that LA — like most big cities — is focused upon neighborhood/suburb-to-downtown routes, at some expense to neighborhood/suburb-to-neighborhood/suburb routes.”

    Which goes directly the opposite of Metro’s repeated “answers” that the average Metro rider rides it only for 4 miles based on APC data.

    So what’s the real answer here? What is Metro’s main focus? Long distance commuters? Or the flawed APC data that on average Metro riders only ride it for 4 miles?

  14. @ Frank M

    The averagey daily BUS rider travels 4 miles. Rail and Orange Line passengers travel longer distances hence why some on this board would not mind seeing distance fares applied to those systems. The infastructure is already in place (gates and tap pylons at all the stations) it would just require a simple software switch to apply. The only thing holding it back is the Metro Board’s lack of interest in increasing farebox recovery.

  15. Again, I think we need a “How do they do it” on passenger counting. It seems to me people have trouble understanding the concept of “average” trip length does not mean that every person’s on and offs have to be tracked.

  16. The condescending tone of your comments on the HSR proposal gloss over the serious problems with this proposed linch-pin to the State’s rail network. I SUPPORT RAIL SO DON’T GET ME WRONG! Nevertheless, the current proposal almost certainly carries the seeds of the destruction of a 21st Century rail system for the state!

    Your have NOTHING to say about the following questions: Why the detour through Palmdale? (Sure it adds an hour, but Palmdale-Lancaster are tourist MECCAS!). Why the “orphan track” as a starter, stranded in the middle of nowhere? (Why not start by laying tracks over the Tejon Pass to tie together the pieces we DO have now, not that the smoking Amtrak buses now climbing the Grapevine at 20mph don’t just scream STAGECOACH!) Why the 100+ miles of viaduct, some of it 60 feet in the air? (Earthquakes? Not in California!)

    Follow this link http://www.calrailnews.com/crn0811extract.pdf to a sober, well-conceived, and logical analysis which makes your little ditty look pale and weak by comparison. You damn journalists who use newspapers as sources; you use fantasy and imagination!!!

  17. To answer the question::
    “something the town has encouraged as a way to create attractions (most of the breweries are attached to restaurants) and jobs via a local industry.”

    Oregon liquor law requires food to be served where alcohol is served.