Notes from a Forum for the Environmental and Transportation Activist Groups on
California High Speed Rail Plans
Held 4/19/99 at the MTA HQ in Los Angeles
Notes by Jim Stewart
Southern California Council on Environment and Development (SCCED)

The 50 representatives from Los Angeles Environmental and Transportation Activist Groups were mainly supportive of potential reductions in air pollution and highway congestion and less need for expansion of LAX. The group focused on the following issues.

1. Route alignments : The route along the I-15 corridor could encourage new suburban sprawl, while a route through Orange County would mainly go where there are already people living.

2. Station locations : Stations should be in existing downtown centers and transportation hubs.

3. Equity: Several people were concerned that the sales tax would mean everyone would be supporting a system used primarily by businessmen.

4. Quality of life : Will this promote more livable communities? Can it bring more benefits than comparable funds on improved local and regional transit?

Notes from the Meeting

Kathleen Gildred , Director of Southern California Council on Environment and Development (SCCED), welcomed the group of about 50 people, primarily from environmental and transportation activist groups.

Gloria Ohland , Director of Los Angeles office of Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP), raised the question of the transportation/land use connection. We are facing the issues of the Central Valley tripling in population and suburban sprawl spreading throughout the state. The question is will high speed rail promote outlying development or help reduce sprawl?

As California's population increases, either we build more highways, or a high speed train network. Will we have stations in the suburbs with huge parking lots that encourage more driving to the stations? In the city, where will we find space with huge parking lots? Can it link up with the existing transportation system? If done well, high speed rail could be useful.

Will funding for high speed rail compete with funding for local rail? Will we raise the tax on the general populace or on the users?

What are the political realities? Governor Davis called it a Buck Rogers scheme.

Dan Leavitt , Deputy Director of the California High Speed Rail Authority, presented an outline of the purpose and plans for high speed rail in California: Our process is to get input from across the state so that the plan speaks to the needs of all California. High speed rail is important because the state's population is expected to increase by 50% to over 50 million in the next 25 years, mostly from births to the current inhabitants. Currently many highways are congested, and airports are close to capacity.

High speed rail can move people safely, efficiently and environmentally. The High Speed Rail Authority is a state agency with the authority to build a system. However, the financing method is not yet determined. A 1/4% sales tax could pay for all capital construction costs, then the system would operate at a surplus.

High speed rail technologies have been in use for over 20 years by the French and Japanese. They work well at 200 miles per hour, and have been tested at 300 mph. No fatalities have occurred from train malfunctions. Magnetic levitation technology (called Maglev) could travel faster, but so far it has never operated in a revenue mode.

The proposed route would include the major population areas of San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and the fastest growing parts of the state, including the Central Valley, Palmdale, and the Inland Empire. Anticipated travel times between San Francisco and Los Angeles would be 2 hours and 52 minutes using steel rail technology, and only 2 hours and 5 minutes with Maglev technology.

High speed rail will travel on different tracks but it could operate in rail or freeway corridors on elevated structures. It will have non-stop, skip-stop and local trains. It will travel only about 125 mph in the Los Angeles urban area. We anticipate 52 through trains/day each direction, and could accommodate an additional 150 trains per day for local service. Ridership projections are 20 million passengers per year by 2015, using steel rail technology, producing annual revenues of $27 million. The higher speed Maglev technology would gain more passengers and more income.

The complete 676-mile system would cost $23 billion for steel rail technology, more for Maglev. It would cost about $10-15 million per mile to construct in rural areas, more in urban areas. Our plan is to secure funding by the end of 2000, requiring a voter measure on the November 2000 ballot.

We are now developing our business plan, updating ridership forecasts and designing corridor plans. We are also looking at the comprehensive statewide rail plan, with improvements in conventional rail to serve as feeders to the high speed rail system.

We are looking at various route alternatives (see the maps on the website We hope to include most of the major airports in the system. Recommended routes will be presented at the Authority meeting in Los Angeles on June 16 .


Gloria Ohland asked about revenues?

Leavitt: Our revenue projections are based on a ticket costing 70% of the airfare from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but much less than the current air costs from the Central Valley. So Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $45 one way, and $30 from Fresno to Los Angeles.

Ohland: Is a sales tax fair way to raise revenue?

Leavitt: This system serves most of the California population, 90% of population will live near a station. It will benefit all of California's economy, through the ability to move people and goods rapidly and pollution-free.

We are contemplating a sales tax rather than gas tax, which has less stable revenue. Also some County laws make gas tax not available for non-highway uses. We anticipate raising $800 million/year with 1/4% for 15-20 years (depending on our business plan). We anticipate 1 million riders/year, primarily long distance between cities.

Audience: $20-30 billion is an enormous price tag and the MTA says it can't afford $700 million for rail to Pasadena. Could we do it on an interim basis, start with a conventional upgrade of the current rail system?

Leavitt: Parts of the Amtrak Los Angeles to San Diego corridor run at 90 mph, but it cannot compete with the car. The U.S has invested $8 billion (primarily Federal money) to upgrade and grade-separate the NE corridor cost to add tracks and increase speed and it does compete with airplanes and cars. Now, to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco by rail, you have to take a bus part of the way and it takes 9.5 hours. Or you can take the rail coastal route in 11.5 hours. We calculate that a service that would compete effectively with airplanes and cars would take 3 hours.

This is an opportunity to build a completely separated corridor for both high speed rail and regular freight. It complements the Alameda corridor.

The sales tax increment will cover capital costs, revenue in excess of operating costs will reduce the period the tax will be needed.

In terms of the relation with the SCAG proposed intra-region rail, there will be a application for Federal planning funds by the Authority, that will integrate both the statewide and SCAG planning need into one application.

Audience: Has TransRapid Germany stopped its Maglev system?

Leavitt: No.

Susan Bok , City of L.A. Department of Transportation: It may reduce air flights, will it reduce auto trips?

Leavitt: It will help reduce both auto and air trips. Now the Central Valley and Temecula people have no decent air service. The short hops are very expensive, our main airports are congested, we need to reduce commuter flights. Since the people are already living in the Central Valley and Temecula, high speed rail would focus growth around urban areas near the stations. It will reduce air emissions from both cars and planes. It will divert more auto passengers than air passengers. We have estimates of the number of trips and costs.

Sheldon Plotkin , Southern California Federation of Scientists: What about a direct LAX-Palmdale airport link?

Leavitt: It is too costly to run high speed rail along the 405 and there is less ridership on that route than from Palmdale to downtown. LAX has looked at feasibility of a link from LAX to Palmdale and the ridership forecasts are too low to justify the cost.

Audience: El Toro airport, if approved, could have 40 million annual passengers and is on the Amtrak route. Can you include it?

Leavitt: The potential direct link to Anaheim could be extended to El Toro. We are also looking at conventional rail improvements in Orange County.

Audience: Why not just do a conventional rail upgrade program or do parts of it?

Leavitt: To get a rail system with enough revenue you have to connect the major transportation markets with high speed service. That's why we are presenting the 3 major connections: Los Angeles-San Francisco, Los Angeles-San Diego, San Francisco-Sacramento.

Audience: To get a statewide ballot measure passed, you need to show the benefits to the average taxpayer.

Dana Gabbard , Southern Calif. Transit Advocates: Do you have strong support from the Governor and Legislature? I heard the Governor referred to it as a Buck Rogers idea.

Leavitt: The Governor and Legislature cannot formally support it until we have a plan, but they are talking about it. This is not a Buck Rogers plan, these systems have been working in other countries for decades. He has people in his administration who are very interested in seeing this happen.

It is true that Maglev is a new technology, but the company would have to guarantee it would work and post money to ensure that.

Audience: You forecast a ridership of 1 million people per year. Those would primarily be white business people taking business trips. So the rest of us would have to pay 1/4% extra sales tax to subsidize business trips by white people. I believe it will be an environmental disaster and a seismic disaster. The benefits will go primarily to the corporations that build it, such as Bechtel and Jacobs Engineering. A lot of black and Hispanic groups will oppose it.

Ohland: Will it promote more livable communities? How will it affect neighborhoods? Where will the stations be?

Leavitt: The route and station options in the Central Valley are to be determined. The stations in the urban area will be at the current transportation hubs, such as Union Station.

Dan Silver , Endangered Habitats League: The Norm King article calls high speed rail an insupportable public subsidy. He says it doesn't help traffic congestion, there are other ways to spend 30 billion.

Leavitt: We have invested billions into our highway system and more is needed. CalTrans says they need $150-200 billion for highway maintenance and improvements over the next 25 years. This project will not end congestion in Los Angeles or the Bay Area, but does allow you to have some transportation options. You could get from Riverside to San Diego in less than an hour. This 2 track system has the capacity of an 8-lane freeway.

Silver: SCAG has an application for Federal funds to develop a high speed rail system within the region.

Leavitt: There is now an agreement that there will be one application through the High Speed Rail Authority working with SCAG. It is similar to the SCAG proposal,

The Japanese bullet train now carries 120 million passengers per year.

Audience: A sales tax separates those that benefit from a project from those that pay for it, a gas tax would be fairer.

Jim Stewart , SCCED: Using the income tax would be much fairer because the higher income people more likely to use the rail will pay more than lower income people.

Bok: Here in Los Angeles, many taxpayers do not want to pay more for transportation services, the people are likely to vote it down.

Audience: Local transportation is underfunded. We need a lot more money for welfare to work needs. How did this proposal get started? Who really needs it. It would be a big benefit to the Central Valley, but not statewide.

Leavitt: It was started by Senator Kopp, from San Francisco, and Senator Costa, from the Central Valley. There is strong support for it currently from the Inland Empire and elsewhere.

Lynn Plambeck , Sierra Club: High speed rail will help you to live in the Antelope Valley and get downtown quickly. The result will be to promote suburban sprawl, unless you can tie it in with location-efficient mortgages so people have incentives to live near the stations and you don't eat up more farmland and open space.

Audience: Who will decide on the route?

Leavitt: The California High Speed Rail Authority, which has 5 members appointed by Governor Wilson, and 4 appointed by the state legislature, will make the decision on the route. Past feasibility studies have shown this system will work.

Audience: Now about 45% of Orange County travelers use LAX. How could they use high speed rail to go to Ontario airport? How would the drive time and high speed rail travel time compare from Anaheim to Los Angeles, LAX and Ontario?

Leavitt: I don't have those numbers in the top of my head, but we do have some calculations.

Charles DeDeurwaerder : From a professional planner's point of view, we are developing an individualized non-integrated planning approach. If you develop high speed rail, you need a parallel plan for limiting urban sprawl, such as growth boundaries, so the trains are supporting an intensified urban growth.

Audience: It would be better to have the route be where people are, such as through Orange County, so you are not promoting sprawl, as in the Riverside route. I suppose that route is less expensive because Riverside to Escondido is outside populated areas.

Audience: If you took an incremental approach, upgrading the current rail system would not be dependent on a tax increase.

Leavitt: that incremental approach would not get the travel time down to where it could compete effectively with planes or cars.

Audience: The average speed of Amtrak today is 44 mph, which is same as it was in 1930.

Leavitt: Our task is to prepare a statewide plan for a high speed rail system with some additional conventional rail improvements.

Audience: Benzene and other pollution from airplanes into LAX causes cancer in South Central. How can we can reduce the number of planes into LAX? The route along the 15 would not get people from Orange County to Ontario. But if you develop El Toro airport, then you don't need to get to Ontario airport.

Leavitt: This system could link all the airports in Southern California. Now 1/3 of flights from San Diego are flying only to LAX. A high speed rail system would reduce that number.

Audience: In the San Gabriel Valley, we are concerned about freight lines. You are going to piggyback on the existing rail system, can you move freight?

Leavitt: We can move light freight, similar to that now carried in planes, but heavy freight would have to be carried by the regular freight lines.

Audience: An earlier proposition for intercity rail got a 80% no vote. What about an airport tax to raise money to mitigate its own problems, rather than tax all of us?

Leavitt: It takes federal legislation to allow the use of airport funds for this. But there have been some federal-state partnerships that have improved travel to airports.

Audience: Could a proposition provide alternatives for within-corridor travel, with conventional improvements between cities?

Leavitt: Our projection is the most revenue will come from Los Angeles to San Francisco travel. It will be comparable to the total travel time by air from Los Angeles to San Francisco which is about 3 hours end to end. This system would be even more convenient for people from San Jose and other intermediate cities.

Audience: What about giving the voters alternatives, e.g. build the Los Angeles - San Diego corridor first?

Leavitt: The feasibility of such a system was determined in 1996 by the High Speed Rail Commission, so the question for the Authority is how to best implement it. For example, you could do the San Francisco to Sacramento leg, and Los Angeles to San Diego leg first.

Dana Gabbard , Southern California Transit Advocates: The people who will fund the campaign to pass the tax will be the people who will benefit from the project, like Bechtel and the other big companies. How do you feel when you find out that the people who are supporting it are out to make a buck, not for environmental reasons. Can we do this with that kind of allies?

Audience: There is no rail system without an operating subsidy, some are being subsidized at 50 - 90% of costs. The Century Freeway is only 16 miles long and took 20 years to build and took away a lot of homes.

Audience: We need a marriage of airports and rail. SCAG is doing various airport scenarios. High speed rail is assumed. We need a feeder system to get people to the airports. Rail is an investment in the future. There is a lot of air cargo at LAX, you could use the cargo to gain revenue for high speed rail. Perhaps the feeder systems could be funded by County bond measures. The air passenger facility charge paid for the JFK rail system to Manhattan.

Leavitt: We are looking at feeder lines from San Luis Obispo, and Palm Springs. Our routes include LAX, Palmdale, Ontario, and potentially El Toro.

Gabbard: Is Orange County supporting it.

Leavitt: The original draft had an Orange County route. Orange County is favorable, but there is too much opposition along the coast to take that route.

Stewart: What about using Route 5?

Leavitt: It would be too expensive on the 5 because there is no extra right of way, so it would have to be aerial all the way.

Ohland: Every transportation mode is subsidized, including highways. Bechtel will also benefit if highways are built instead of high speed rail. We need more investment in urban areas.

Leavitt: CalTrans said to maintain the roads needs $200 billion over the next 25 years.

Leavitt:: The alignment to LAX would go along the rail corridor, but the average speed would be 60 mph.

Audience: What stations are you considering?

Leavitt: We looking at Temecula, in addition to Riverside.

Audience: How can a person in South Orange County get to I-15 corridor?

Leavitt: You can use the Metrolink corridor to Riverside along the 91. We are also looking at the option of a high speed rail link through Fullerton.

Gildred: What about the different technologies?

Leavitt: CyberTran is for short distances. It won't get to 200 mph and it is an unproven technology, with no revenue-generating system in operation.
Maglev will achieve speeds of 300 mph. The Japanese have built a test track, Germany has plans to build a Berlin-Hamburg line, but revenue-generating system testing is important. Japanese high speed rail has over 200 trains per day, with less than a minute between trains. It has to work very reliably.

Sen. Moynihan put Maglev in the T21 Federal bill because he wants to have it built somewhere. It is attractive because it can run through tighter curves and accelerates quicker than steel wheel technology. We think it is premature to decide on Maglev technology unless they can put up financing to guarantee it will work.

Audience: The French TGV high speed rail uses old tracks and stations.

Leavitt: Conventional trains, including Metrolink, are too heavy to use our aerial high speed rail tracks, so high speed rail will have to use different tracks.

Anthony Loui , Southern California Transit Advocates: We need to have alternatives that would not foster urban sprawl. We need to work with the MPO's to place the corridors and the stations in the best places. We need to help public to understand the benefits. The American Institute of Architects is doing a design for the next 10 million people in the Central Valley. We need to show the benefits of the high speed rail system for those people.

Leavitt: The preferred draft alternative route will be presented in June in Los Angeles.

Anthony La : The public needs to see the numbers to be convinced that no operating subsidy is needed. You could use a design, build, operate and maintain agreement by a private company.

Leavitt: It is easy to have private business operate a system once they are built with public money. Even private sector contribution of $1 billion would be a modest part of the total cost. We will do a detailed financing plan to be presented late this year.

Audience: Who will benefit by the use of this train, and who will pay? The reality is that all of us will pay, whether we use it or not.

Leavitt: This system is needed for California's future. The question is how do we handle transportation for another 20 million people? The question is how do we grow? Does this high speed rail make our state a better place to live?

The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be. The cost to build the initial part of BART was only a few billion dollars for 70 miles, now it will cost $1 billion for seven miles. Is it worth the price for California's future to delay?

The urban rail commuter systems need operating subsidies, but air transportation and high speed rail can make money. Now conventional rail service cost $100 million per year because we are subsidizing a few people to use it.

But if you put the money in to build the infrastructure, then the private sector can operate it at a profit. The airports and highways were built by the taxpayers.

Walter Siembab : I did a rail station-oriented development study. Look at the website to see models of station-oriented development.

Additional comments

Other comments received by phone and email from people unable to attend the meeting:

Elizabeth Moule , MPArchitects: I am not able to attend this very important meeting and would like to give you my comments and concerns.

First, it is critical that high speed rail has stops in the major city centers,
like downtown LA and not have stops in peripheral suburban centers. The
stops are far more important than alignments. Growth will develop
concentrically around these stops and these stops could induce further
suburban sprawl. The best way of thinking about how to plan such a rail
system is to look at traditional European Cities and look how all train stops are
in cities, not just the TGV. Japan also has a pretty good network of rail stops.

Now it is important to plan alignments correctly because it is important not to make breaks or divisions in important wildlife corridors or have them encroach upon large tracts of undeveloped land- whether natural or agricultural.

Second, high speed rail is an important part of a comprehensive rail
system for many reasons. High speed rail can increase the popularity of
all rail because it is so efficient, clean, safe etc. It will definitely
reduce air traffic and will decidedly question the expansion of other
airports, not just LAX, but Ontario, Burbank etc. It will do little to
reduce local traffic congestion- only to the extent that there is
traffic generated by airport trips.

A high speed rail system must be well integrated into a comprehensive
rail/ bus system so that the traffic currently going to airports is not
just relocated to high speed rail stops. One should be able to entirely
by rail or bus (quickly) from one's home or workplace to a high speed rail stop.

It is important to remember that the effectiveness of high speed rail as
a serious competitor to air will depend on total travel times. This is
also why it is crucial for the success of such a system to have stops in
the densest localities within the current city and in localities where
future growth is meant to go. Stops need to be located where they have
the greatest access for the most people. And certainly future growth
needs to be contained within existing centrally located urbanized areas
- so stops like Pasadena, somewhere in the middle of the San Fernando Valley and
so on, are good choices.

Finally, it is important not to pit high speed rail against other rail
systems. It is important that it is compared to car systems and, yes, to
bus systems. While bus systems have a short-term effect on reducing
vehicle use, they have less of a positive long-term effect on
development patterns. Because bus systems are mobile themselves, they
have no effect on solidifying development in certain patterns. Because
rail is fixed, it can attract and organize development around it which
can establish permanent patterns which reduce further suburban sprawl.

Ellen Stern Harris , Fund for the Environment: It must have accommodation for the disabled, like the airlines have wheel chairs and porters. To get the tracks off the beach at San Clemente, they should put them in a tunnel under the water.

Deborah Murphy , Los Angeles Walks: We need a route through the San Fernando Valley, with a stop in Van Nuys. It would be better to have high speed rail along Route 15 than none at all.

Dr. Bob Gottlieb , Occidental College: I am very concerned about community and environmental impacts. I want the follow-up notes and to be included in future discussions.

Jeffry Carpenter , Community Redevelopment Agency (personal view only): I think this is great that you are bringing some exposure to this topic and my congratulations to your organizations for your efforts. I can offer some perspectives to your questions:

1) Will high speed rail (HSR) promote Sprawl or Not? Absolutely vital question. The answer is, of course, "it depends"...on what others do.

I would say that HSR is a vital and important tool-but only a tool and not
in itself a panacea-that developing communities can use to focus,
structure and add richness of scale to their growth. If the Central
Valley is to be saved from the pressures for sprawl that are
increasingly bearing down upon it, HSR will be an essential tool for
Valley communities searching for catalysts to help them create more
compact, transit and pedestrian-oriented districts, villages, town
squares and what have you around HSR stations.

One such "village" every 50-100 miles by itself a Smart Growth landscape
doth not make. But it can provide a powerful example and stimulus. It
can provide an enormous shot in the arm to local transit and
inter-community bus systems by providing uniquely active nodes
delivering a unique supply of non-auto using visitors, most of whom will
be looking to make a connection to someplace in the local area. Rail
delivers travelers in an environment that can be made uniquely
supportive of the transit choice. Our airports, for lots of reasons,
almost invariably do not.

The self-interest here: A big city (like LA, but Oakland and San
Francisco, et al. as well) needs to make it easy for people to visit to
do the things here that Big Cities do best. But, for an awful lot of
potential clienteles, we are not easy to get to. You have to go to an
airport, fly, get to another airport-which is still nowhere-and schlep
yourself somehow into the center of Where Things Are. For LA in
particular, inter-city rail is a key strategy in helping realize a lot
of urban potentials. Metrolink is a very major step and the City, I
believe, wants to very much continue to enhance the inter-regional rail
option. But we need another, fundamental tier of rail service. Having
to rely up the present array of air, auto and present-day Amtrak
effectively precludes most big cities in California, in many ways, from
"delivering the destination".

I think the idea of HSR stations as catalysts for multi-purpose locally-scaled community nodes needs to get a lot more emphasis and worked up with allied constituencies. Would it be possible to get the Local Government Commission involved in this area, as an
element of the State's Livable Communities initiatives?

2) Upgrade or Not: Two responses. First, this is not a question!
Of course we upgrade and maintain what we have.

Second: But that is not the question. What are we talking about
upgrading that responds to the needs and the outcomes we are seeking?
Tripling the runways and the gates we give to Southwest Airlines? Are
the commuter airlines really going to respond to the needs of the
50-100-200-300-400-500-mile etc. trips that HSR can serve? Have not the airlines
spent the last two decades withdrawing what commitments they had been
making? And even if they reversed themselves to provide these
competitive-speed connections, do we really want to spend the money and
endure the disruption of expanding the State's regional airports? Will
all of that really get us "where we want to go"?

Isn't the handwriting been put on the wall with how citizens around LAX, El Toro, John Wayne and Lindbergh Field feel about these issues? Would we be smart to have commuter air travel as our only time-efficient option for longer-distance intra-state travel? How much is this "option" already costing us? (we don't have the faintest idea!) How much, truly, are the incremental costs of purchasing additional amounts of capacity (we don't have any idea, but it is a lot more than what we
have been paying-and there is a real question whether the industry could
really "deliver").

Or are we talking about "upgrading" US 101 and/or I-5? How? Doubling
the number of lanes? Are these sorts of options truly just
"upgrading"-or are we, in the long term, essentially committing to
building a new system? Why would we support these options with the
penalties they entail in pollution, petroleum dependency, promotion of
sprawl and loss of community scale?

Or are we talking about Amtrak raising the speed in
Rose Canyon (North San Diego) or Simi Hills (east Ventura County) from
15 mph to 25 mph...? ...things that are absolutely essential to do and
should have been done a long time ago-but will not, by themselves,
constitute the fundamental response in terms of competitive speed and
capacity that will guide future growth in any smarter direction than
what we have today.

I think the routes being considered are plainly designed to compliment
existing inter-city rail services. The Coast route-which really only
serves Santa Barbara and misses most other population centers, will
continue on the coast at a scale that is appropriate to that special
environment. The HSR corridors, by contrast, attack the core issues of
growth in the Central Valley and the lack of connectedness between the
Bay Area, the Central Valley, the Sacramento Valley and the Southern
California basin.

From LA south, my assessment of the issues turns gray. Apparently the
rationale is that HSR could be difficult and disruptive through some
segments of the LOSSAN corridor, so the I-15 corridor is proposed
instead. HSR would seem to partially duplicate the Inland Empire
Metrolink routes (although there could be utility to an effective
connection with Ontario Airport, per question 4). Putting the Inland
Empire at the apex of a LOSSAN/HSR triangle could create a powerful
inducement away from more historic urban centers. I think State policy
should uate what we should be doing in that regard.

In short, we need to be sure that we are comparing "apples to apples".
What are the alternative ways that the people of California can purchase
"x" thousands (1,000? 10,000? 50,000? 500,000?) of daily trip
capacity between these "y" points (e.g. the centers of dozens of rural
towns and of big cities) with an average portal-to-portal travel speed
(in excess of 75 mph? 125 mph? May need to benchmark what the
competitive ranges are here.)

We should be aware that, in particular, the airline industry and others,
such as the trucking industry, will ultimately bring enormous resources
to bear against HSR in California. These are both very important
participants in the State's economy and their rightful roles need to be
acknowledged and supported.

But the agendas they have pursued in past debates have sought to obscure
the true, underlying issues and borne no accountability to the future of
California and its citizenry. An enormous effort has to be made to keep
the debate centered and not allow people's fears about very large costs
and amounts of money (which, in fact, are at stake in any action or
inaction) be pandered to.

3) Inter-City Verses Intra-City Priority. This is an interesting
and challenging question. My inclination is to say, however, that they
are really two separate, non-substitutable needs. Can we really ask,
"should we buy clothing or should we buy food?" Does the airline
industry or the trucking association have to defend itself against, for
instance, the Pasadena Blue Line or MTA bus service improvements in the
San Fernando Valley? Are not we, then, being unfair by singling out HSR
to do battle in such contests? If we are going to change the rules and
the playing field, we need to be consistent and across-the-board.

In addition to responding to very different-but, arguably, equally
legitimate-needs, we can note that the clientele base is very different.
Hence, the implied resource base that would be called upon to support
one or another option would be different.

I think it is also important to note that the playing field is very
tilted here: Where do the status quo players have to go to justify
their State-wide operations? Do they have to endure a plebiscite for
their long-term public cost burdens for, say, grants from the US
Airports and Airways Act, long-term municipal bonds, subventions from
FHWA? Of course not. It is a game of selective divide-and-conquer,
almost entirely out of public view or scrutiny. We do not have a State
Department of Transportation that has generated a State-wide planning
framework that would promote these cost-effective choices. In the
meantime, we will just have to make do-but recognize that
problem-solving initiative is very highly penalized in this area. The
State's structure has the effect of powerfully conspiring on behalf of
the status quo.

Finally, I believe that in the case of HSR, there is something
fundamentally different about this question than when we ask it (if we
could) of the status quo. In the contemporary environment, the debate
between inter- and intra-city typically involves an inter-city element
that is often destructive to the best intra-urban choices. More airport
runways supply capacity, but markedly diminish livability and, as
mentioned before, are biased against transit choices. A new
super-highway adds capacity but not a scale that reinforces community
scale and values. With inter-city rail alternatives-whatever the
speed/range configuration-there is the potential for a powerful,
mutually-reinforcing synergy. We typically do not have a way of
factoring this into the equation. We need to work on framing this.

4) Can HSR Reduce the Imperatives of Airport Expansion and Help
Contain Ground Access Congestion? The short answer is "yes, of course".

The caveat is "...depending upon whether all involved can work together".

Municipal airport authorities will insist that they really want to
achieve an "optimum" transportation balance. But with no other choices,
this is an empty platitude, since there is nothing else to "balance"
with. Will they readily accede to a more calibrated role, should HSR
arrive to help them achieve broad transportation goals? Not likely.
They have fought transit as a threat to rental car revenues; sharing of
the "core business" can be expected to be fought even more vehemently.
Again, another example of a failed State mandate for a transportation
planning framework....

Air cargo, the fastest growing component of ground access traffic, could
conceivably benefit from a railroad (electrified, grade-separated,
semi-automated) to one or more intermodal transfer yards. LAX was
contemplating such a railroad for passengers between LAX and the
Hawthorne airport. That could take a lot of truck traffic to better
connected, less congested locales.

It is not discussed much (outside of one technical report from the
former Commission), but HSR would appear to have significant potential
for the some of the same kind of cargo now carried in aircraft. Mail
and high-value small parcels, for instance, which