HSR station: where will it fit? Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm
A rough outline of what a high-speed rail station would look like in downtown Mountain View is starting to take shape, and it's going to need a lot of parking. City officials say it would require 3,000 parking spaces within a three-mile radius, among other things.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 6, 2010, 11:52 AM
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm
Bruce Karney please stop smoking crack - seriously. Look at the scale of downtown Mtn View, then look at the scale of the proposed monstrosity of a station. I mean you can say things cute and cuddly things like "sensitivity" and "good architecture" all you want, but you might as well bulldoze half of downtown and start over.
Posted by MarkT, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm
HSR is very expensive, controversial and divisive. These problems can be substantially reduced. I think that there’s a much better alternative to the proposed HSR system in California -- SkyTran, at Web Link
This system overcomes many of the problems associated with HSR (and trains in general). Here are some advantages that I can think of:
• It’s much cheaper to install and operate.
• ** Its capital cost is estimated to be $10 million/mile for both directions (vs. $40 - $60 million/mile for HSR, and $100 million/mile for light rail).
• ** Its costs will decrease as volume goes up, while HSR’s costs will likely increase.
• ** SkyTran expects to be able to make a profit, while HSR will likely continue to be an expense.
• ** Its total cost per passenger mile is estimated to be less than $0.03.
• ** Its ticket price would thus be much less than HSR.
• ** Its low ticket price would attract more riders than HSR would.
• ** It’s much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
• It’s much quieter (almost noiseless).
• It doesn’t require widely separated large stations that riders have to travel to.
• It allows many small stations that would often be easy to walk or bike to.
• It eliminates the need for large parking lots or structures.
• It doesn’t require heavy and expensive infrastructure, and could likely use most current bridges.
• Its lighter infrastructure would be less vulnerable to earthquakes.
• It doesn’t require the complicated and divisive right of way that HSR does.
• Its environmental impact is much smaller than HSR's.
• Its environmental impact report would thus be approved more easily than HSR's.
• It can be built more quickly than HSR.
• Its approval would likely be easier and faster, because it’s much cheaper.
• It doesn’t disrupt or divide communities on its routes.
• It eliminates accidents between cars and trains.
• It eliminates the potential for “train suicides” or similar accidents (15-20/year on SF-SJ Caltrain).
• It’s much less vulnerable to terrorism, because riders are not concentrated in large trains or stations.
• It doesn’t interfere with current traffic, roads and rail systems.
• It’s immune to trash and litter on rails, and resistant to inclement weather.
• Its riders don’t have to wait for scheduled trains.
• It can run 24/7.
• Its proposed speed is 100 MPH in cities, and 150 MPH (or more) between cities.
• Its passengers don’t have to stop at intermediate stations.
• It allows passengers to easily stop along the way for meals, etc.
• Its travel time is comparable to HSR and airplanes, when door-to-door time is used.
• Its estimate of 8640 riders/hour means one track could easily handle HSR’s expected 32,000 - 38,000 riders/day in 2035.
• It’s easily expandable to include many branch and parallel lines.
• It can be redundant and robust -- with a web of tracks, allowing travel around sections that might have problems.
• It could take over the peninsula traffic from Caltrain, eliminating Caltrain’s expected $471 million electrification cost.
• It would provide improved (faster, cheaper, and quieter) service along the Caltrain route.
• It might be expanded to take over many of the other rail and bus routes around the SF Bay and LA areas.
• It might be expanded with extensions to Sacramento and other metropolitan and recreation areas (such as Tahoe).
• It would provide the functionality that voters intended when they voted for HSR.
• It’s modern, with a 21st Century design, instead of the 19th Century train concept.
• It would make California the worldwide leader in public transportation.
Because of these many positive attributes (and some I probably haven’t thought of), Californians would quickly appreciate SkyTran. Also, people from the other transportation systems will likely oppose SkyTran because it will take business from them.
My understanding is that federal money requires that the system already have an installed base, which SkyTran does not have. It is likely enough cheaper than HSR that even with a possible loss of federal money, it would still be cheaper for California. Also, the federal limitation could be changed or modified.
Posted by Margaret who lives N of Central Expy, a resident of the Willowgate neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm
Here is an idea:
Build the HSR from SAN JOSE to LA. Let people ride Caltrain from SF to SJ. The 'High speed' rail will NOT TRAVEL AT HIGH SPEED DOWN THE PENINSULA. Does anyone really think that we're going to have 400 mph trains barreling down the tracks that kids cross for school, etc? Put more money into more Caltrains to accommodate the need and don't bother spending all this money in the cities from SF to SJ.
I live very close to the tracks and I don't want to see people who have owned their houses for 50 year get displaced so that we can have a third set of tracks and trains getting there no faster than they do now between SF and SJ.
This makes no sense, particularly in light of everything else that is getting cut from budgets.
Posted by J Cierra, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:53 pm J Cierra is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Proposing alternatives to HSR is fruitless. The citizens of California voted for HSR through the initiative process that carries the force of law.
Worrying about how to accommodate a giant station is also pointless. The rail authority will choose the stations they wish, and the likelihood of a Mountain View station is small: it is a bargaining chip to get concessions from Palo Alto, the city where the authority has wished the station to be if there will be a mid-peninsula stop.
If the station does land in Mountain View, we will have the benefit of the trains going more slowly through our town, but the disadvantage of needing to destroy all that new parking lot and station along Evelyn.
You can endlessly point out what a bad idea the train is, and while you would be right, it will not help.
The only way to stop this monstrosity is to kill it with another initiative.
Posted by Liz, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 2:58 pm
Mr. Bruce Karney how close do you live to the current railroad tracks??? Have you tried to sleep with your window open and have the 10:30pm, 11:00pm, and the 2:00am trains blowing their horns numerous times...just try sleeping with the trains we already have, and as for the old buildings...what are we without our history??? I would also like to point out that there might be fewer planes (I doubt it) but we sure will have lots of cars on the ground...if we are going so green then why do we need all those parking garages...probably for all the cars that people will use to get to the train station...don't tell me that people with a lot of luggage for a trip will be traveling by bus...let's be realistic...it is always easy for people to be for something when it isn't impacting their lives.
Posted by Estelle, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm
"Passengers would likely be ferried to and from those 2,000 spaces via shuttles, Fuller said, much like long term parking at an airport."
Unbelievable. Recreating the wheel. I got to go to LA. Get in the car, drive to the parking structure, park, catch a shuttle, get my ticket or check-in, wait in security lines, hope the train will be on time, take a two and one-half hour train ride, disembark, walk to the rental car agency, wait in line, get a car. Whew! Oh crap. I hope I can take a large suitcase, a carry-on, and a laptop and purse with me. Will I need a luggage cart? Am I going to have to juggle all that on a shuttle? How will I get all that on the train during it's short stop, since it is a high speed train? Will I block the aisle? What to do. Maybe I'll just fly instead. You can't beat the airline prices these days. Trains are for peons and morons. The rich and elite fly everywhere and will continue to do so, why can't I.
"I would hate to see this project held hostage to historic buildings in Mountain View or anywhere else," Karney said.
No kidding?!? Like in Palo Alto where they've accepted the fact that they will make an exception and tunnel under the old trees?
Posted by Jerry, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:06 pm
I was very intrigued by MarkT's entry on the SkyTran. But I read that it is "under development". Is this a few years away? Decades? It will be years before the HSR could be installed, so anything under a decade is probably workable. And the potential advantages over HSR (and even over CalTrains) seem substantial. If we're trying to build the California for the later part of the 21st century maybe we should put a little more thought into future technologies?!
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm
re: "The only way to stop this monstrosity is to kill it with another initiative."
There's not enough funding for it to actually be built. So, the project will stop when the High Speed Rail Authority runs out of funds. Of course, it would be nice to stop it sooner with an initiative before all the money is wasted.
Posted by Jay Tulock, a resident of another community, on Aug 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm
Oh, Gawd, it's Captain Skytrain again, pitting non existent technology against existing technology, and calling it 'cheaper'.
Let me tell you, my friends, as a builder of railroads here and overseas, new technology is never cheaper than existing technology, and the first to buy it will pay all the research and development costs as well as suffer the failures of non tested parts, not to mention the replacement costs of unique vehicles and infrastructure. One can always claim a fantasy is cheaper than a reality, I say, open up the books on the fantasy's cost. What, no books?
So be gone Captain Skytrain! Take your place in the graveyard of bad idea guys beside Teddy Tubular Rail, Solar High Speed Train Hippie and Monorail Man.
Posted by PHM, a resident of the The Crossings neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm
"The only way to stop this monstrosity is to kill it with another initiative."
Good idea! Any lawyers out there who want to write up the initiative? I'll gather signatures and donate as much time and money as I can afford and I bet there are lots of others happy to do likewise. I haven't so regretted a vote since I voted for John Anderson in 1980.
Posted by Ben, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm
Most people worry about the local problems high-speed rail causes. There is a little attention paid and to the negatives of the system. The high-speed rail has no real local l feeder transit system here or in the L.A. area, so you’ll still need an automobile when you get here. (Japan has an extensive government and private feeder rail system making it an almost door-to-door system that we do not have – fatal flaw.) No one should consider the L.A. sprawl as being serviced by high-speed rail or the East Bay region. . (This is not a door-to-door system – more cars traveling even further – more traffic jams.)
or better yet Google “Map of Tokyo transportation system”
It is crazy and stupid of the pro transit people to think transit will transport people like in Japan.
The loss of the central valley farmland and in twenty years is totally ignored. The fact that this high-speed rail will be a commuter rail service from some of the central valley cities (I hour commute) is not what the ignorant public and the delusional pro transit people thought they voted to establish. High-speed rail was wishful thinking and is really not practical but we’re saddled with this boondoggle as no one is working to revote this now that we realize the impact on all of California.
Posted by Jim Doughty, a resident of the Gemello neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm
It is beginning to look like the idea of running the HSR along with the Caltrain right of way is akin to the vision of the bull in the china shop. If you look at a map of the peninsula, you will see that there is precious little land between Bayshore Freeway  and I-280. Most of that land is already developed -- placing the HSR anywhere in this location will create a real rats nest of upheaval and unrest among the troops. It is time -- while we still have some -- to rethink the whole concept of having the HSR anywhere on land on the peninsula.
What would it take to build a structure down the middle of San Francisco Bay over which the HSR could run?? The Bay is not all that deep, so it should be a routine construction job. Now that we have experience building the Bay Bridge, this project should be duck soup. The Bay is a whole lot bigger than the available land on the peninsula -- could we get creative and at least crunch the numbers to see if it is feasable. If we were to include the cost of all the hoo-hah on the land route, my guess is that a Bay route might just have something going for it.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm
Last year went to England and changed trains at a High speed rail staton they didn't have such long platforms, the use of boarding signs and platform guides will help this problem. Parking again a well laid public and private transit choices will also help. Taxis, shuttles, limos, ligh rail, Caltrain. car share and car rentals, evev private for rent car parking.
Posted by Jimmy, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:24 pm
I agree with Margaret's comments - very logical thinking. The proposal for 3,000 parking spaces and 65,000 sq. ft. for a station is way beyond the scale/size of Mountain View as we know it. Is there any way this thing can be killed?
Posted by I've Got yer Parking Right Here!, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:04 pm
Really? 3000 parking spaces? doubtful. Anyway, instead of creating new parking and shuttles, Why not kill two birds (or more specifically, two albatross, as the case may be) by using Hangar 1 for parking? short walk to the Bayshore/NASA LightRail Station so it also eliminates the need for a shuttle. Of course, with all those perches for birds once the PCB-laden skin is removed, we'll need to commission a pigeon guano task force to mitigate its primary effect on low HSR ridership.
Posted by Fuzzy math, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:20 pm
I'm not going to wade into the heart of the debate on this board, about whether putting a HSR station in Mountain View is a good idea or not. But I have to say, there are some pretty sketchy numbers being tossed around in the comments on this board. For instance, Ben's comment above about the percent of people riding SkyTrain in Vancouver.
Ben takes one small factoid, does a quick calculation suggesting a 5.42% share for rail, and suggests it proves something about the viability of transit in the Vancouver area. Well, the CITY OF VANCOUVER in 2008 reported that 25.1% of Vancouver residents took transit for their journey to work. And it reported that even in the rest of the Vancouver metro area, 13.2% of residents took transit to work. See the following report: vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20080513/documents/tt1.pdf
Beware the fuzzy math and sketchy 'facts' being tossed around here, especially by Ben!
Posted by Jarrett, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:55 pm
The Caltrain transfer idea does not work and it has rightfully been eliminated by Caltrain and the CAHSRA. When you start to think about what is needed for this idea to work, it makes the current HSR/Caltrain solution much better for all.
Here's why it doesn't work:
A fully loaded HSR train can carry 1,000+ people. Lets say half of those people wish to continue past San Jose. So, 500 people board a Caltrain train which is then full. There are no spaces left for local riders or commuters because of the passengers from the HSR transfer.
Caltrain would then have to run more local and express trains to accommodate HSR riders and local riders. Before you know it, Caltrain will basically be operating at frequencies proposed for the HSR line but with an added 15 minute transfer inconvenience at SJ. To accommodate all of this service, Caltrain would have to grade separate most, if not all of the right of way just like what's proposed under HSR.
Posted by ben, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:01 am
Three are many sites that report various numbers (220,000 to 400,000 rides daily – used 220k before I found the 400K number. I will give you an average of 10 percent. What do you expect from City Hall; report the number for the highest density area, not the lowest or average numbers. – did you look at the map – that should be an eye-opener for any reasonable person.
Posted by ben, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:06 am
I did a Google search “Map of SkyTrain Vancouver Area.” It is clear why only 5 percent ride SkyTrain. It is not door-to-door system – check the map – most areas have a 1 to 3 mile walk to a station. Transit support never think transit has to be a door-to-door system or even think of what one carries around in a car – groceries, stroller, car seats for two kids, 400 watt sound system, etc.
The delusional transit supporters and advocates do not realize transit does not serve most peoples needs! Sorry about that Mark. It trumps all your great claims.
Posted by Jarrett, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:19 am
Again, Mark supports SkyTran, which is an elevated Personal Rapid Transit concept system. SkyTrain is Vancouver's extremely successful Heavy Rail rapid transit system which performs very well in the dense corridors they serve. Obviously, the entire population of Vancouver does not need to make daily trips into the urban core. There are many other reasons that your analogy and conclusion are faulty, but I won't go into detail.
As for the merits of transit, I could argue for days and provide countless statistics on why it's a good investment in areas like Vancouver and California, but I won't delve into that.
What it comes down to is providing transportation choices. Currently, most have no choice but to drive to get to everywhere. I don't think I need to explain why this is a bad idea and hasn't worked very well. But, here are a few. Our auto dominant system limits mobility and freedom of the elderly, young and those who cannot drive. For those that do not want to drive, they have no choice. For those who would rather spend money on other things, they are forced to dump cash into maintenance and insurance costs for often two or more cars. I see this as a burden, and if fuel prices rise again like they did in 2008, people will sink even more money into auto operation.
Posted by Jarrett, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:47 am
I can make an equally pessimistic scenario for driving or flying. With that said, do you really think a long distance train won't have space for luggage? Common' now, even Caltrain has sprawling spaces for bags. As for connections, why park at the lot? If you live in the Crossings as your name implies, take a short taxi trip or hop on Caltrain and switch in SJ, since the San Antonio stop is likely less than 5 minutes from your house (lucky you!). When HSR service starts and Caltrain electrifies, Caltrain will likely run local service every 20 minutes, so there's bound to be a conveinent connection.
HSR trains are some of the most reliable in the world. Japan's Shinkansen average arrival time is within 18 seconds of the scheduled time.
There will be no security theater, so you can get to the station 10-15 minutes (or less) before the train departs.
On board, there's luggage space, leg room and an attractive environment to work with that laptop you've brought along. When you get to LA, rent a car, or take advantage of LA's expanding transit network. Westwood is only 23 minutes away, Pasadena is 25, Hollywood is 20, and USC is 12. Of course, downtown LA is becoming a destination itself.
Finally, consider the volatile cost of fuel. Personally, I find it hard to imagine that the $50 Southwest hops will be feasible if oil climbs back to 2008 levels. As in 2008, airlines would cut the short distance, less profitable routes first such as LA-SF. Hopefully, a HSR system will be available to give travelers another choice when they travel.
Posted by ben, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 12:54 am
Mark seemed to also talk like the two people SkyTrian (or the Vancouver SkyTrain) would be better than high-speed rail from here to LA.. Do I have this wrong?
As for your comment: “Our auto dominant system limits mobility and freedom of the elderly, young and those who cannot drive.” Transit is not very friendly to these people either. I was on the 1972 Santa Clara Transit Goals Committee. We suggested transit service for the group you site, but the committee was a con to pass the elections for the transit system. We got Dial-a Ride service locally but it was a disaster. Nothing was done to implement the Committee’s local transit goals and most other goals were also disregarded – 100 percent agreement, no advertizing on busses!
We had many big city (US and Canada) transit executives speak to use. They expressed the real problems (to my suprise)of transit – not pretty, but the committee had mostly delusional transit supported that just did not listen to the real world transit problems and believed what they were going to get was the elimination of the 1970’s traffic congestions. (I went to San Jose today and the traffic jam was longer than a few months ago – from San Jose to Lawrence Station Road now.) Over populations is the real traffic problem as is the unemployment problem that no politician wants to address.
Posted by Rodger, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm
The station idea for Mountain View is silly, why would we want this horrible thing in out midst. The best approach is to fund a recall election for this far fetched project and stop all of this nonsense.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm
Me again, i have lived and traveled overseas, I don't think we need 3000 parking spaces, we need to build a better HSR + Rail * other modes (Sky Train, Taxi, Bus and Shuttle, instead of a food store why not a hotel instead. People will find a way to and from the station.
Use to live in Petersfield Hampshire, when i took the train into London, the HSR stations was build next door, it ddin't seem to need all the above. great looking trains, nice cleans stations and fast service to the south. WHY CAN'T WE HAVE HERE.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 7, 2010 at 8:53 pm
One more things i thought the idea of HSR was to get people out of cars and help save the airports from being more crowded, we can build this newwork and it will take little room compared to building a new airport, with parking lots, runaways, large building for support, and not to mention to find a place big huge place from where people live.
Posted by le dude, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm
Hey Garret, you're in California, not England. I say we build an airport in Mountain View. Castro Street can be the main runway. That is, as soon as we tear down and build over the airport at Moffett Field.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm
There was an interesting urban transportation development I saw in Barcellona - that was done for the Olympic redevelopment there. Viaducts. Central Expressway could be the ground floor of a multi-level parking garage stretching up and down from the center of the station BUT #s? I agree, the HSR planner seems to have come out of the same school (or company) as the planners for the now infamous Peninsula BART extension. Have you seen HOW EMPTY that 5+ story garage is? And how small the usage vs projected usage?
Tell me that Palo Alto voters are going to come up with space and money for that parking in their downtown (and divert money from their schools). HA!
Our elected legislature can vote to HOLD SALE of the HSR Authority bonds. No money - no project.
Posted by MikeR, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm
"... met with California High Speed Rail Authority officials who laid out some basic requirements of an "intermediate" station in downtown Mountain View"
Did they happen to mention why such a station was necessary? It seems one can already take Caltrain from anywhere on the peninsula to either SF or SJ (to the HSR stations). If we start putting 65,000 square-foot stations every 13 miles, this HSR thing is going to get expensive.
Posted by Seer, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Aug 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm
The place to put the HSR station if it must be in Mountain View is the Mayfield Mall. There's plenty of space for parking, and if we extend light rail a few miles, it will connect CalTrain, light rail, and have easy access to 101 and El Camino.
Margaret: Aside from being illegal to terminate the HSR in San Jose, how many people do you think will spend 2 hours riding from LA to SJ, and then another 1 1/2 hours taking CalTrain from SJ to SF? What about people the East Bay who have to take BART too? The point of HSR is city-center to city-center speed, which even airplanes can't do.
Ben: You can't complain about how HSR will fail because it doens't have feeder transit (which I agree, it should) and then in the same breath complain how it's going to be used to create bedroom communities in the Central Valley. Either people will ride it or not, but both possibilities can't exist at the same time.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Aug 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm
But where are we going to find land for San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland airports. For San Jose boot out NASA and turn Moffett. Fill in the Bay For more runways, build more freeways. Oh yes we can not forget that planes are going to carry more passengers,.
Posted by ODB, a resident of another community, on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:33 am
First there was going to be an HSR station in either Redwood City or Palo Alto; now they're shuffling the deck and putting it in Mountain View. How could this plan get past voters in 2008 when so many details were not nailed down?