Breaking News: Governor Agrees to Sign High-Speed Rail Bill

As we continue to await word on whether we’ll be able to vote on Metro’s sales tax proposal, alternative transportation advocates did get some good news out of Sacramento earlier today.  Governor Schwarzenegger, who famously declared he would veto all legislation that didn’t have to do with the state budget, reversed course and said he would sign enabling legislation to placing a bonding measure to build a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  The California High Speed Rail Authority estimates that it would take 2.5 hours for the train to travel between the two cities, meaning the average speed would be 140 miles per hour.

Schwarzenegger’s office sent a letter to the legislature asking that four pieces of legislation be sent to the Governor’s Office, be sent so he could sign them.  These four bills include A.B. 3034, legislation that would replace the current ordinance with new language that includes oversight and a budget.  Until this announcement, it seemed certain that the ballot would contain a previously approved bonding proposal with no oversight provisions making it less likely to receive statewide support.  The California High Speed Rail blog jokes, that:

Nothing’s certain until we see the printed ballots, but it does look
like we’re going to have to get used to "Yes on 1A." Thank god I didn’t
order those bumper stickers yet…

In what could be considered good news for supporters of Metro’s plan, the Governor claims that regardless of the budget impact, Californians deserve the right to vote on ballot measures.  The Sacramento Bee explains:

Schwarzenegger plans to sign the bill when it reaches his desk,
according to his press secretary, Aaron McLear. The Assembly passed it
earlier this month but withheld it due to the governor’s threat.

In
the letter, Schwarzenegger asked leaders to send him four proposals
immediately so they can be placed on the November ballot. Besides
high-speed rail, they include a water bond, a plan to expand the
California Lottery, and a budget reform plan to strengthen the state’s
rainy-day fund. The latter two proposals are part of budget
negotiations that remain unresolved 57 days into the current fiscal
year.

"The governor believes Californians ought have the
opportunity to vote on these four measures on the November ballot
despite the fact that the Legislature is two months past their deadline
in passing a budget," McLear said.

10 thoughts on Breaking News: Governor Agrees to Sign High-Speed Rail Bill

  1. High speed train only with speed 140 MPH ~ 280Km/h ? That’s too slow… Japan built the first series of Shinkansen with speed 300 km/h in the 1970s and they plan to replace the oldest Shinkasen with much faster trains…

    Hope California will start building a MAGLEV and it can travel with speed more than 200MPH ~ 450 km/h… and later linking that MAGLEV to more big American cities…

    BUILD MAGLEV PLEASE!! NOT CONVENTIONAL RAIL! CONVENTIONAL RAIL IS USED FOR FREIGHT Transportation! MAGLEV is for passengers.

    China will start building another 200 km MAGLEV line in 2010 and completed by 2014. Link:

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gqAfhOzHvrCCKkVe2B_kti5TqAxA

  2. Maglev is great but it is also expensive and we are going to be lucky if we get the measure passed for this train. Perhaps when people get a taste of high speed rail in the U.S. it will garner the support needed for even faster trains in the future. Also keep in mind the difference between average and top speeds. The 2.5 hour travel time includes various stops in the route after which the train has to reaccelerate. The top speed of the proposed train is 220 MPH, which is short of a mag lev, but is fast enough to be competitive with plane travel(accounting for excess commute times to airports and longer delays) and considerably faster then cars.

  3. Mark —

    Gary’s right. Average speed 140. Maximum will be 220 mph or so, which is top technology that Shinkansen and TGVs still don’t have yet. And this is all with conventional rail (maglev isn’t worth the investment, when conventional can go 350+ still)

  4. Gary and Ian:

    I love the idea of conventional rail transportation but:

    Please look at the number of people commit suicide, trains collisions (passengers and freight trains), rail crossing collisions, trains hit animals along the track, etc. per year in the States.

    Link: http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/R_Acc.htm

    they do not represent the total number of railroad accidents! only part of them.

    MAGLEV is different! MAGLEV trains travel on separate tracks! and have a top speed 500km/h (for German MAGLEV version).

    That’s why I support MAGLEV! Although it’s expensive to build today (hope MAGLEV will soon made in China to lower the construction cost…) but building a MAGLEV it’s definitely a very good investment in the long run. Link:

    http://www.chinaknowledge.com/News/news-detail.aspx?type=1&id=17029

  5. Mark,

    The proposed High Speed Rail will have it’s own dedicated rails. No other trains will use them. There will be no at-grade crossings. Anywhere. Every place that a road crosses the high speed rail will be an over- or underpass.

    Maglev is really cool, but it’s not just expensive. For the lengths we’re talking, (700 miles, ~1100km), it’s an order of magnitude (or two) more expensive.

  6. The problem with not choosing a Maglev route is that it won’t be able to connect to the Desert Xpress that is planned from Anaheim to Las Vegas.

  7. Not a cynic in this bunch, huh?

    Let’s see, we’ll have the MTA begging for their $.01, the high speed rail bond, the LAUSD contractor bonanza bond, multiple tax and fee increases coupled with layoffs of government workers …

    Does anyone predict that NONE of these bond and tax measures will be approved by the voting public? I’m of that mind right now. I like some of them (high speed rail, basically), but I predict most people will want to hear about how their use of a private car is going to be subsidized even deeper to make up for the high price of gasoline.

  8. Exists 3 types of trains.

    Conventional trains. It has at-grade crossings, a lot of stops, etc. Slow
    High Speed Rail. Use powerfull trains, dedicated, more linear line and little stops. Fast (350 Km/h top)
    MagLev – Very High Speed Rail – Very costly, special lines (superconductos or magnets). UltraFast (500 km/h and above). Only for superdense traffic lines.

  9. I consider my self a realistic optimist. I don’t want to get my hopes up to high for this, but if I just cynically write it off as people are dumb and we’ll just shovel more money to cars, then I will give up, stop trying to influence change and mope. I plan to actively campaign for this train, because I believe it is important enough to try. Maybe it will fail, but ideas don’t succeed without people believing in them.

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