Democracy in Action: California Bullet Train Losing Support

KRSOne

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Voters have turned against California bullet train, poll shows


A strong majority of voters is against the bullet train project just as Gov. Brown is pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll finds.


June 02, 2012|By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times

California voters are losing faith in a proposed $68-billion bullet train project, saying the state has higher priorities, they would seldom use the service and they would halt public borrowing for construction if they could, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found. A strong majority of voters have turned against the project just as Gov. Jerry Brown is pressuring the Legislature to green-light the start of construction in the Central Valley later this year, a major step in the plan to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with high-speed rail service by about 2028.


In a state renowned for betting big on mega-infrastructure projects, including the world's most famous freeways and canals that move oceans of water across hundreds of miles, the fast-approaching decision on the bullet train project marks a historic Golden State moment.
Whether eroding public support will sway the Legislature is unclear. Brown, the Obama administration, labor unions and Democratic leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, are ramping up pressure on key state senators to cast aside doubts and commit funding this summer for an initial 130-mile section of track.

But the new poll numbers show that proceeding could put lawmakers on the wrong side of public opinion. Across the state, 55% of the voters want the bond issue that was approved in 2008 placed back on the ballot, and 59% say they now would vote against it.

Since voters approved that $9-billion borrowing plan, the state and national economic outlook has dimmed and some of the promises about the bullet train have been compromised. Its projected cost has roughly doubled, and it will now share track with slower commuter and freight trains in some areas. Powerful agriculture groups and freight railroads have asserted that proposed routes would damage their interests and compromise safety. Churches, schools, businesses and homeowners are fighting the project.

Brown and a coalition of bullet train backers have argued that the project requires a long-term optimistic view of California's future. Proponents say that highways and airports will reach their capacity someday and that the state must be prepared.

Said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, citing improvements to the plan: "This is a large, complex project, and we believe that once Californians learn more about the positive turnaround at the authority, they will embrace the improved direction."

Some lawmakers agree on the need for the rail service but are concerned that the existing plan is flawed and could set the state up for a big disappointment, if not financial disaster. The decline in public enthusiasm for the proposal appears to reflect more than a short-term fluctuation in sentiment, which might be expected and even discounted by officials trying to execute a decades-long project deemed crucial to the state's economic future.

"You have a situation where general financial pressure and cynicism toward the government has narrowed the support," said Drew Lieberman of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the survey jointly with American Viewpoint, a Republican-affiliated firm.
Indeed, the poll shows that concerns about the project extend broadly across regions, ethnic groups, income brackets and even political affiliations. In Southern California, 67% of voters said they would reject issuing bullet train bonds if they could vote again.

Although organized labor has been among the biggest proponents of the project, 56% of union households now would reject the state funding plan, the poll found. Even among Democrats, the strongest backers of the project, only 43% would support the bond in a new vote, while 47% would oppose it. And 76% of Republicans would vote it down.


"Voters are having some buyer's remorse over this," said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint.
The poll reflected clashing viewpoints expressed at recent public hearings held by the rail authority: While critics say that the project is seriously flawed, supporters argue that people desperately need jobs.

"It costs too much and we need the money in other places," said poll respondent Robert Coplin, a 49-year-old unemployed bus boy and dishwasher who identifies himself as a Republican. "We should fix the roads, fix the levees and reduce the deficit. The rail makes no sense at all."
Patricia Bradford, a Democrat from the Inland Empire, doubts she will ever use the train but nonetheless
is a supporter. "They need to get people jobs. People have kids and families. They are living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, spend some money, create some jobs," she said.
Backers say the bullet train will help California's transportation system catch up with those in Europe, Japan and China. Yet the poll found that most voters don't expect to use it.
Another democracy fail, have the majority vote to steal from the minority and now the majority don't even support this because its such a huge disaster. By the time they finish the railroads could be obsolete and they will have 20 year old tech
 

KRSOne

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Brown seeks to reduce environmental protections for bullet train

With legal challenges mounting, governor circulates legislation designed to diminish the possibility foes could stop the project with an environmental suit.
June 04, 2012|By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times

With legal challenges to the California bullet train mounting, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday began circulating proposed legislation designed to significantly diminish the possibility that opponents could stop the project with an environmental lawsuit.

Brown's office sent the proposal to a group of powerful environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Planning Conservation League and the Natural Resources Defense Council, hoping to win their support for the special legal protection.

The proposal puts environmental groups in a tough spot. Brown is asking them to agree to water down one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation in history, but for a project they support because of its potential to help reduce vehicle emissions and global warming.

The legislation would most immediately affect suits brought by Central Valley agricultural interests, which have been among the project's leading critics because of potential effects on farms, dairies, processing plants and other holdings.

Brown's proposal would modify the California Environmental Quality Act solely for the bullet train project. It would "prohibit a court" from issuing an injunction or other stop work orders unless those filing the lawsuit show their damages substantially outweigh the harm to the state and those employed by the $6-billion initial phase of the project.

The potential loss to the state could include more than $2 billion in federal funds. The proposal would apply to any action filed since January, including a lawsuit brought last week by Merced County and the Madera and Merced farm bureaus.

Brown may be asking too much of the green lobby.

"There is a good deal of skepticism even among groups who want to support the high-speed rail," said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning Conservation League.

Even before the draft language had been circulated, Sierra Club Director Kathryn Phillips said, "It is astounding that the governor and his appointees to the high-speed rail authority are resorting to weakening environmental review."
This shows the environmental laws are BS if government can ignore them because they deem it to be for the greater good. If no one rides this train it will be a environmental disaster.
 

thekidslepthere

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The stupid people of this state pretty much deserve this shit.
 

Creasy Bear

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I think they should build a bullet train from California to Colorado... so the Californians can get to Colorado in a hurry to show those dumb hick Coloradans how to do democracy right.
 

Party Rooster

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I think they should build a bullet train from California to Colorado... so the Californians can get to Colorado in a hurry to show those dumb hick Coloradans how to do democracy right.
I they should train a bullet to go from California to Colorado to a certain mother's basement. :action-sm
 

weeniewawa

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#7
this train is a joke, amtrack goes right thru my town, the same path where the bullet train is supposed to go, and it is always empty

and how fast can the train go when it has to stop at each town between Sacramento and LALA land?

huge boondoggle
 

ysr50

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I live in southern california and I would have to drive to bakersfield to use this. I can drive to burbank, hop on a southwest flight, fly north, rent a car and be at the hotel faster than this train. I can also go to van nuys, rent a plane and fly myself north, rent a car and be at the hotel in about the same amount of time but that would be more expensive and alot more fun. The only way a high speed rail in socal is going to work is if it links la to vegas with vegas providing a bunch of funding. Bakersfield to Modesto is a bad idea.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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$68 billion for a train? You know things are bad when the union drones who would have been the ones making out like bandits don't support your pork project.
 

Creasy Bear

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Patricia Bradford, a Democrat from the Inland Empire, doubts she will ever use the train but nonetheless
is a supporter. "They need to get people jobs. People have kids and families. They are living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, spend some money, create some jobs," she said.
Ugh... shut up, dumb cunt.

Spoken like your typical retarded Democrat... "Let's make things better by spending billions of dollars we don't have on some useless shit we don't need."
 

thekidslepthere

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This is only the second worst idea in the world to the shit show that is the California High Speed Rail project.

So we drive an hour from LA to Victorville, pay to park, then take a train?

Why not just add more lanes to the roads to Vegas so I don't have to get out of my car?
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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This is only the second worst idea in the world to the shit show that is the California High Speed Rail project.

So we drive an hour from LA to Victorville, pay to park, then take a train?

Why not just add more lanes to the roads to Vegas so I don't have to get out of my car?
Because shit doesn't get built overnight, and once the feasibility of a system between California and Nevada is shown, it will likely spur further investment to get it to the LA basin.
 

BIV

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This is only the second worst idea in the world to the shit show that is the California High Speed Rail project.

So we drive an hour from LA to Victorville, pay to park, then take a train?

Why not just add more lanes to the roads to Vegas so I don't have to get out of my car?
That's the point. They want you out of your car.
 

thekidslepthere

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Because shit doesn't get built overnight, and once the feasibility of a system between California and Nevada is shown, it will likely spur further investment to get it to the LA basin.
We can't get the state to eminent domain a couple houses along the 101 in the Valley to get extra lanes to benefit hundreds of thousands of people a day (it would also cause less pollution from all those cars sitting in traffic) and you think they're going to be able to afford squeezing in 100 miles of train tracks to get it to downtown LA?

If I don't have to have my taxes going towards this shit go ahead with it. I'll still be taking a flight from Burbank for less money.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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We can't get the state to eminent domain a couple houses along the 101 in the Valley to get extra lanes to benefit hundreds of thousands of people a day (it would also cause less pollution from all those cars sitting in traffic)
The people along the 101 have Gov. Brown on speed dial. No way your little inconveniences in traffic are ever going to interfere with their ability to have an extra 10 acres of highway-front property.

and you think they're going to be able to afford squeezing in 100 miles of train tracks to get it to downtown LA?
Most of the right-of-way from Palmdale to LA is acquired, it will be Caltrans ROW along SR 14 and SR2 then Metrolink ROW into downtown. There's one segment between SR2 and Metrolink that runs through a sensitive area so they are exploring the use of bored tunnels to bypass it. But the bulk of the concept is set for this piece of the alignment.
 

thekidslepthere

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Most of the right-of-way from Palmdale to LA is acquired, it will be Caltrans ROW along SR 14 and SR2 then Metrolink ROW into downtown. There's one segment between SR2 and Metrolink that runs through a sensitive area so they are exploring the use of bored tunnels to bypass it. But the bulk of the concept is set for this piece of the alignment.
You seem to be very familiar with this, but why would this make it to LA, when they're talking about ending the San Fran to LA HSR in Burbank or even further up in San Fernando?
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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You seem to be very familiar with this, but why would this make it to LA, when they're talking about ending the San Fran to LA HSR in Burbank or even further up in San Fernando?
It's probably because the Metrolink system would need to be upgraded to accommodate the High Speed rail trains on its tracks, and there's probably a disagreement over who will pay for that. As long as MTA is in the equation, it's another Authority that needs its palms greased to make sure shit happens. I've been dealing with mostly optimistic people who don't see this as an insurmountable obstacle and the goal is to get the train to Union Station downtown.
 

Motor Head

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They wanted to build a high speed rail from Lincoln to Omaha. A ton of people commute back and forth. They did a study and quickly found out that nobody would use it. Plan scrapped, taxpayers save $$$$$.
 

VMS

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I'd love to see a high-speed rail system, but not if Victorville is the stopping point.

What are Europe and Japan doing that the U.S. can't seem to figure out?
Suburban and rural Americans prefer personal transportation, not mass transportation. Tourists who go to Vegas rent cars, even when renting a car is frankly stupid and a waste of time and money.

What's the last time anyone on this thread has actually taken a train somewhere, other than a subway for in-city transportation (for Bay Area transportation, for the San Fran/Oakland types)?

I've taken long train rides before, but always overseas in China or in Europe. I drive to NYC, DC, Baltimore, etc. It's cheaper and I have more flexibility at either end of my trip. There are few things more annoying than being in a new and interesting city and being chained down to the mass transportation system or by walking. Cabs are fine, but I like to actually get to know a city, not just be carted around at a premium price.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

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Update

California high-speed rail gets green light

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California lawmakers gave the green light to start building the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The move marked major political victories for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration. Both have promoted bullet trains as job generators and clean transportation alternatives.
In a narrow 21-16 party-line vote that involved intense lobbying by the governor, legislative leaders and labor groups, the state Senate approved the measure marking the launch of California's ambitious bullet train, which has spent years in the planning stages.
"The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again," Brown said.
Brown pushed for the massive infrastructure project to accommodate expected growth in the nation's most populous state, which now has 37 million people. State and federal officials also said high-speed rail would create jobs.
"No economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative."
The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $4.5 billion in voter-approved bonds that includes $2.6 billion to build an initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line in the agriculturally rich Central Valley. That allows the state to draw another $3.2 billion in federal funding.
The first segment of the line will run from Madera to Bakersfield.
More story at http://www.thehour.com/news/nation_...cle_e4c0eaea-e6ba-5c2d-8cf8-9aa1234dcf03.html

Just some inside. In order to get the greenlight from enough Senators, Gov Brown agreed to make the necessary improvements to the Caltrain line (which connects Gilroy to Downtown SF) and Metrolink (LA Basin) such that these sections will be ready to go for High Speed Rail once the first segment gets there. This bumps up the schedule for when an active high speed train will be ready to go LA to SF after the initial buildout in the Central Valley.
 

Party Rooster

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#23
Update


More story at http://www.thehour.com/news/nation_...cle_e4c0eaea-e6ba-5c2d-8cf8-9aa1234dcf03.html

Just some inside. In order to get the greenlight from enough Senators, Gov Brown agreed to make the necessary improvements to the Caltrain line (which connects Gilroy to Downtown SF) and Metrolink (LA Basin) such that these sections will be ready to go for High Speed Rail once the first segment gets there. This bumps up the schedule for when an active high speed train will be ready to go LA to SF after the initial buildout in the Central Valley.
Looks like you'll be staying in California now huh? :action-sm