Transportation headlines, Monday, April 9

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.


A view of Southern California that sums it up: subdivisions, Lake Elsinore, mountains and sunset, as seen Saturday evening from Highway 74. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

No high-speed rail to Anaheim (L.A. Times)

The revised business plan for the bullet train project released one week ago glossed over this not-so-small point: high-speed rail tracks will not be built between Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim in order to save the $6 billion. The media didn’t catch this — I didn’t either. Excerpt:

It is unclear under the new proposal if or when bullet train service would be extended to Anaheim. The $68-billion project is supposed to be completed by 2028.

It was partly the elimination of service from downtown’s Union Station to Orange County that helped slash the project’s price tag by $30 billion, said Lance Simmens, a spokesman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Until the recent revisions, the estimated cost of linking the Bay Area to Anaheim was nearly $100 billion.

The politically sensitive change had not been immediately evident Monday when the new plan was unveiled because the report did not explicitly state it. But a series of passages makes clear that the reduced budget would not cover costs of dedicated high speed tracks or electrical systems needed to operate bullet trains between Los Angeles and Anaheim. Other language in the plan suggests that an expanded future project or a second phase could reach Anaheim.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on the new rail station proposed for Anaheim that comes with a $200-million price tag. It may also be a smart move. Bullet trains weren’t going to be that much faster in the L.A.-to-Anaheim corridor than regular trains and the tracks were going to dead-end at Anaheim with the bullet train route between L.A. and San Diego going through the Inland Empire to Riverside before turning south.

Sunday letters: changing our car culture (New York Times)

Fun and fascinating back-and-forth between Times readers on Americans’ driving habits and whether we should be driving less. Some favor a gas tax to help prompt more transit and discourage ‘let’s-drive-everywhere’ behavior. Others say cars are the only practical way to get around modern America.

What should I do with my old bike helmet? (Grist)

Advice columnist Umbra has several suggestions for using helmets whose noggin-protecting days may be over. Turn a helmet upside down and hang it from a beam and it makes a pretty nice flower pot, for example.

6 replies

  1. At least Caltrain will be electrified. Caltrain was already planning for electrification, and this ought to just speed up their plans.

    On the other hand, Metrolink has never gotten the full attention which it deserves, either in making improvements to the tracks or in implementing TAP.

    Sooner or later, Metrolink ought to be electrified. I don’t expect them to electrify everything at once, but we should be looking into at least electrifying from Union Station to Palmdale. I would electrify from Union Station to Orange County as well.

    And, the backbone of the high-speed rail system always has been and always should be the middle — the Central Valley, which will still get a lot of the first segment.

  2. I am glad to hear the Anahiem leg of CHSR is gone. In its place should be an electrified Surfliner route. Then , you could run some of the CHSR trains from north of LA to SD via the coast route using the same equipment. These trains could be your “Express” only stopping at Santa Ana and Oceanside. The Surfliners remain as the ‘limiteds” and Metrolink/Coaster your “locals’. This is one of the items that needs to be exported from Euro. A piece of equipment that can be run on the 200 mph segment and then transition to the existing 90 mph Surfliner route providing through service with no change of equipment.
    I would make the LA to SD route through the Inland Empire in the second phase and from it, a route to Phoenix or north to Vegas .
    Too bad we had to go through all this time before the CHSR folks figured out to do the urban segments first and build the super speed segment to connect them second. Now lets get this project moving !

    At least it looks like Metro will be ready. We add the downtown connector to LAUS, plus an extension of the Gold line to Azusa, Gold to the eastside, maybe even the West Santa Ana branch all feeding LAUS, plus Expo to Santa Monica and Purple down Wilshire. People will actually be able to get to LAUS to board the fast trains, unlike LAX who you would still have to drive to for the forseable future.

  3. Re: Picture caption “A view of Southern California that sums it up: subdivisions, artificial Lake Elsinore, mountains and sunset, as seen Saturday evening from Highway 74. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.” Please remove the word “artificial” as Lake Elsinore is a natural lake that was around in 1888 when the area was first settled.

  4. Anaheim doesnt even have light rail while Orange Countiy’s infrastructure is notoriously designed for motorists. I can detect that some may feel shafted down their, but Anaheim may not be ready, nor have a heard of any plans to embrace those who use rail heavily. Although, a high speed train would attract more people from that area, however, I feel like this is giving a Mercedes to a 16 year old as their first car. Anahiem will be fine without it, and can hopefully drum up more support from, I dont know, DISNEY, to foot some of the bill to have the additional segment built. One question arises though. What about San Diego?

  5. “…would not cover costs of dedicated high speed tracks or ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS…”
    So basically we will still be using slow diesel trains on the LOSSAN corridor for the next umpteen years. Awesome…

  6. It never made sense for Anaheim to be part of the base bullet train routing. Especially when the line was cut back from running any further south in Orange County (at one time Irvine was going to be the terminal of the Orange County stub). This was driven by politics and the Governor’s team was smart to eliminate it from the initial phase.