Obama's high speed rail plan loses big in California court

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by PSGator66, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    Hong Qiao is the old airport in Shanghai. A 20 minute ride to/from the airport, which also apparently doubles as a train station with other routes to Hangzhou, Shanghai city, Beijing, and other places, cannot be compared to a 3-4 hour ride between cities. You also cannot compare the population of Shanghai with either L.A. or S.F.--it is much larger than either of them. The route that you quote is basically an inner city train (Wuzhou is essentially a suburb city of Shanghai) of one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the world that happens to be high speed. It's probably mostly commuter traffic.

    I have ridden the Maglev train several times between the new Pudong airport and downtown Pudong (Shanghai). It is a very impressive train. If you ride it during the day, it hits speeds of 430 km/hr (over 250 mph). Sadly, I have never seen it over half full. And a third of the train is First Class seating, which is almost always empty. The ticket cost is $8 for economy, and $16 for 1st Class, one way. The train takes 12-17 minutes to get from one end to the other.

    If you just want a short track that can be successful, run one from the Orlando airport to Disney World. Of course, Disney should pay for it.
  2. asuragator
    Offline

    asuragator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,536
    Likes Received:
    4,090
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings Received:
    +6,082
    And in the private sector, it's overselling and underdelivering. This is the nature of both capitalism and politics, it just takes on a slightly different form within the political arena. But I am not debating whether overselling happens in government, indeed I think we can just take it as conventional wisdom. As for the big dig, that was a mess, but that mess was about fraud within and without government.

    As for your fix, it sounds on the surface like a good thing, but I am not sold it's feasible. Politicians will always try to sell their projects, hell dude, it comes with the territory. But we have a process for handling politicians, it's called elections.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  3. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    The election process is flawed if voters do not have the information they need to make an intelligent decision. And because incumbents typically are better-financed than challengers, they get to provide the information to the voters. It is also flawed because incumbents have the ability to buy your vote though earmarks. They get to spend the nation's money, and someone else pays for it. The more seniority you have, the better positioned you are to get earmarks put into legislation and approved. These advantages are clearly demonstrated in the opinion polls, where all Americans think Congress is doing a terrible job, except for their Congressman, who is the only one in Congress doing a good job. Did you ever wonder why that is?

    If Ted Kennedy had to run for re-election knowing that the Ted Kennedy Big Dig tax would be sent out to every homeowner in his state, he might be well-motivated to make sure it was a $25 tax and not a $275 tax. He might actually ask questions about what the contractors are doing to stay on schedule and under budget. His involvement would not end with the passing of the legislation with the earmark. And that's how it should be.
  4. PacificBlueGator
    Offline

    PacificBlueGator Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings Received:
    +41
    Well I'm sure read where the estimates of time are corrected for the number of stops, which varies between 1 to 6 depending on the line. The estimated time for stops is 90 seconds to 2 minutes, which is about the time it takes for conventional trains to disembark and load. Of course - the expert evaluations on doberman pinschers, ejection seats, parachutes, boosters and bombs were in the addendum you must have missed.
  5. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    I have been on many trains, including a few high speed trains, and none of them ever had a 2-minute time to disembark AND load. I'm sure you could train an Olympic train changing team to disembark and load in 2 minutes, but not a regular group of passengers with luggage, physical handicaps, elderly people, children in strollers, teenagers with iPods, people who can't find space for their luggage, people who don't want to sit next to the obese guy, etc. The trains I have been on had a turnaround of at least 4-6 minutes, and they were less than half full. Figure 10 minutes for a full train (or are your HSR trains going to run nearly empty?). Your estimate only works if the trains run at 10-15% capacity.

    There is typically at least 30-60 seconds between the last passenger disembarking and the first passenger loading, because the crew needs to clean up, make sure no one is stowing away somewhere, and no luggage is left behind. The next time you get on an airplane, see how long before the first passenger gets on to the last passenger sits down, and then divide the number of seats on the plane by 50 (typical rail car capacity) to scale down that time to what it would take to fill a rail car. It is very similar. I promise you a full flight on a 737 or 757 does not fill in 2-3 minutes.
  6. G8trGr8t
    Offline

    G8trGr8t Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2008
    Messages:
    14,257
    Likes Received:
    987
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Ratings Received:
    +2,128
    What is their security processing time?
  7. PacificBlueGator
    Offline

    PacificBlueGator Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings Received:
    +41
    Based on this study of trains and causes of train delays in Japan, the actual measured time to board/disembark was less than 90 seconds. Of course that could be different in other countries due to the characteristics of the populace. The delay in turnaround time from arrival to departure reaches up to 8 minutes at the highest ridership times.

    http://easts.info/on-line/proceedings/vol9/PDF/P240.pdf

    I don't believe it is relevant to compare boarding/embarking to a plane, although I'd be interested if you have some data or reference regarding that.
  8. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    Only about 5 minutes or less. I've never been on the Maglev train during rush hour, or some other time when security was backed up. You put you luggage through an x-ray machine, and walk through a metal detector. Usually only 2-3 people in line. You spend the most amount of time waiting for the train (10-15 minutes), and waiting for everyone to get on board and the train to start moving. You wait for the train on a level above the track, and only when boarding time hits are you allowed to go down an escalator, which takes 30-45 seconds, and find your train (20-60 seconds).
  9. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    A lot of the trains in Japan do not have seats. You stand up the entire time. I have even seen pictures of train men standing outside the train pushing people in with a wide, broom-looking device to make sure the trains are filled to capacity (and quickly). Do you think most Americans will tolerate being pushed on to a train like cattle?

    The airplane comparison is very relevant. A 737 or 757 has a single aisle, and it has seats just like a train does. People enter form one end of the passenger compartment, stow their luggage, and sit down. The only possible difference is assigned seating on an airplane (for most airlines) versus unassigned seating on a train. That might cut a third off the time, but will not get you down anywhere near 2 minutes. You will still have families come aboard that want to sit together and will try to negotiate with other passengers to change seats to accomodate them.
  10. asuragator
    Offline

    asuragator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,536
    Likes Received:
    4,090
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings Received:
    +6,082
    I'm no expert on trains but I have a bit of experience with them in Japan and in Tokyo in particular (wife is Japanese and I go to Japan yearly). It seems you might be conflating the bullet train with commuter trains.While it's true there are workers (oshiya) actually pushing people in the commuter trains as some youtube vids show, this is only at some stops and during short rush hour periods during the work week. There's still a great deal of crowding, regardless, but again, just like other metro train systems, they are packed at peak rush hours, not normally like that the rest of the day or on weekends.

    Also, most commuter trains in Tokyo have seats. It could be that some do not on those lines that have the worst crowding, but I have not seen them and I've taken many lines in Tokyo. Theirs is much like the subway in NYC with some seats, polls and strap hangers. The bullet train system otoh is entirely different from the local city systems and are used for long(er) distance travel, and you actually purchase a ticket much in the same way you would for a plane. There are no oshiya pushing people on bullet trains or anything like that at all. And ftr, I love taking the bullet train in Japan. Just a wonderful experience.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  11. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    I have enjoyed the HSR experience in both Taiwan and China. I just wouldn't want to invest money in a train system that runs mostly empty. I realize that the Japanese trains are typically more successful than those elsewhere, but it is a bigger part of their culture than it is in the U.S.

    With regard to the time it takes to unload and load a train, something I neglected earlier to mention is that the average American is much fatter than the average Japanese, which slows down the boarding process. And the average American travels with more luggage. And the average American is more resistant to following directions.

    There may someday be a place for HSR in California. But not now. California is in serious debt, the U.S. is in serious debt, and my impression of the project is that it is more of a luxury than a necessity. HSR in the NE corridor is more of a necessity than a luxury because both the air corridor and I-95 are too crowded.
  12. asuragator
    Offline

    asuragator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,536
    Likes Received:
    4,090
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings Received:
    +6,082
    Has there ever been an election process anywhere that isn't flawed, lol? The US has a bunch of low information voters too. But this is not all on flawed elections or even low information folks, but on many people unwilling to accept or to excuse the bad that happens on their "own side" which helps protect incumbents and those in power.

    Of course, things like gerrymandering help incumbency, just as negative campaigning (and lying), and campaign funding. You do realize though that even within this messy democracy, good does come out of infrastructure building--a necessity in the modern world--not to mention, we certainly see the bad that comes from infrastructure neglect. When folks blindly and/or mindlessly label everything as pork, well then it makes it hard to fund important projects. But I don't necessarily disagree with holding politicians accountable, I just don't think there is much that is feasible beyond voting them out.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  13. asuragator
    Offline

    asuragator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    20,536
    Likes Received:
    4,090
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings Received:
    +6,082
    I can understand not wanting to invest in something that might not bring passengers, and agree that the eastern corridor (particularly the northeast) would be the most feasible, but I think it would work in Cali too. Though they do have a big car culture out there, I can see them opting for a high speed rail between SD/LA/SF in place of flying.

    I've never been to China...yet. Planning on going after we move next summer (I'm actually moving to California for a new job). But I've heard good things about their high speed rail too. I know I love the Japanese bullet trains. Heck, even just their regular trains for shorter trips are fast and comfortable, and convenient and actually not that expensive.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  14. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    I agree that not all earmarks are necessarily pork. However, if you made the state(s) that benefit from the spending come up with 50% of the projected cost up front through property taxes, then you could be confident that at least the state thought it was necessary. Why should the rest of the country fund something that benefits one or two states if those states are not willing to pay part of the cost? If the Big Dig isn't important enough for the residents of Massachusetts to pay $25/year for it, then the project doesn't need to be done. If something needs to be done that benefits the state and the state cannot afford 50%, then the bill should be submitted separately (and not as an earmark) so the costs and benefits can be fully debated.

    The current system allows anyone to interpret whether an earmark is pork or not, based on minimal information. The residents of the state should know more than anyone else if they need better infrastructure, and how much they are willing to pay for it.
  15. Gatorrick22
    Offline

    Gatorrick22 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    32,774
    Likes Received:
    2,469
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ratings Received:
    +4,350
    One of these days we'll be able build such great projects... when they become feasible and tax payer obligation free.
  16. chemgator
    Offline

    chemgator Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    8,622
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Ratings Received:
    +1,083
    Hold on to your luggage tight around the train stations in China. A co-worker lost his laptop and carry-on luggage when one guy rapped on the window outside the train, and when he turned to see who did it, another guy picked up his carry-on and disappeared. A lot of Chinese come to the cities looking for work, and when they can't find it, tend to congregate around certain train stations looking for easy money. There is a station famous in Guangzhou for crowds of unemployed men, looking for targets. The rest of China seems to be fairly safe.

Share This Page