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LA takes a big step away from car dependence


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A couple of the ballot initiatives I was casually watching in yesterday's election were related to mass transit in Southern California. I've written elsewhere on HAIF about how impressed I was with the Los Angeles subway and bus system. It's really well done, especially considering how car-crazed people are in that region.

Much to my surprise, BOTH mass transit initiatives passed yesterday.

One would expand the current LA subway and surface rail system in a big way, as you can see on the attached map of the projects:

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My favorite one is #1A, the "Subway to the Sea." The project is funded with a half-cent sales tax increase, but backers say that traffic-related problems cost the are $9 billion a year, implying the tax increase pays for itself in some way.

The other project I'm really amazed passed is a plan to build a bullet train network between dozens of cities.

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The bond voted on yesterday allocates $10 billion for the Los Angeles to San Francisco route. The rest may be funded privately.

This is what the old Trans Texas Corridor project could have been, but isn't, and likely won't be. If a place as selfish and car-dependent as California, and especially Los Angeles, can see the resurgence of rail then Texas should, too.

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This is what the old Trans Texas Corridor project could have been, but isn't, and likely won't be.

Are you speaking of Perry's TTC, or perhaps mislabeling the 1991 Texas TGV plan? The world that existed in 1991 no longer exists. Perry's TTC has been overtaken by the toll road battle. I would not wager that high speed rail could succeed in Perry's TTC. The non-rail politics in that fiasco could doom everything. Better for rail proponents to go their own way than get caught in that web.

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Are you speaking of Perry's TTC, or perhaps mislabeling the 1991 Texas TGV plan? The world that existed in 1991 no longer exists. Perry's TTC has been overtaken by the toll road battle. I would not wager that high speed rail could succeed in Perry's TTC. The non-rail politics in that fiasco could doom everything. Better for rail proponents to go their own way than get caught in that web.

I'm remembering the TTC plan that was proposed around 2001/2002. It had a high-speed rail component in it. I'm not familiar with the Texas TGV plan.

I just did a Google for the Texas TGV thing you mentioned. Interesting. Two of the web sites I found say that Southwest Airlines lobbiests got laws passed to kill it. I guess Southwest was afraid of the rail doing to it what it is doing to the legacy carriers.

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I'm remembering the TTC plan that was proposed around 2001/2002. It had a high-speed rail component in it. I'm not familiar with the Texas TGV plan.

I just did a Google for the Texas TGV thing you mentioned. Interesting. Two of the web sites I found say that Southwest Airlines lobbiests got laws passed to kill it. I guess Southwest was afraid of the rail doing to it what it is doing to the legacy carriers.

Herb Kelleher wanted no part of the competition a high speed train would bring to his high profit routes, so he did the free market thing and used his formidable connections in the Texas legislature to kill the plan. Even though the proposal was to be privately funded, Herb went further and got laws passed to prohibit even any assistance by the state. All the while, he crowed on TV and in print about how he was sticking up for taxpayers. He managed to get credit as a free-marketer while killing competition, a tactic that has been used countless times since.

The 2001-2 TTV is in fact Rick Perry's plan that is mired in controversy over the toll road component.

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Herb Kelleher wanted no part of the competition a high speed train would bring to his high profit routes, so he did the free market thing and used his formidable connections in the Texas legislature to kill the plan.

And a blatant move, at that. I can't say I blame him, though. After all... capitalism, through and through. The question I have is will the California version be a public entity or will their be private contractors operating on public rail lines?

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And a blatant move, at that. I can't say I blame him, though. After all... capitalism, through and through. The question I have is will the California version be a public entity or will their be private contractors operating on public rail lines?

My understanding is that the initial portion (Los Angeles to San Francisco) will be public, under CalTrans. For the other links they're going to try to go private.

In my short time out there I noticed that CalTrans does a lot more in the way of transportation than most other DOTs in states where I've lived. Most states' departments of transportation are just about filling potholes and building the occasional offramp. CalTrans seemed to be more involved in the actual movement of people on a large scale -- kind of the way a large city transit agency would operate, but with a larger jurisdiction. I could be wrong on this because I was only out there a short time. There are several California HAIFers, and I welcome their input.

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