CALPIRG Students Rally for High Speed Rail

It’s no surprise that CALPIRG is a strong supporter of High Speed Rail for California.  While the rest of L.A. County was holding their breath on the L.A. County transit tax ballot proposition known as Measure R in 2008, CALPIRG was more concerned with a state bonding proposition that would set aside billions for the California High Speed Rail Project.

The students from yesterday's CALPIRG event also love a fast train. Photo: Anne Ohliger/CALPIRG

Back then, most people thought of California High Speed Rail as the future of transportation for the state.  High Speed rail was imagined as fast quiet trains zooming through the country-side connecting the major cities and other attractions.  Over the last three years, High Speed Rail has taken a beating in the public, with accusations of incompetence and corruption hurled at the project’s Board of Directors.  Nationally, the idea of fast moving trains has become a political hot potatoe because President Obama likes the idea which means that Republicans have to hate it.

For example, these are two headlines that didn’t make the morning headlines roundup: With Little Hope for Near-Term Federal Support, California High Speed Rail Struggles, and Congress Is Broken and CHSR Pays the Price.

But yesterday at Union Station, on the same day that U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer announced a “mark-up” of legislation to renew the federal transportation funding package, a group of CALPIRG’s students rallied to remind voters, and the Senator, that High Speed Rail is a winning proposition for California regardless of what’s going on with the politicians and appointed members of the state CAHSR Board.

“As students, we know that our broken, outdated, and oil dependent transportation system needs to change,” said Josh Joiner, CALPIRG Students Campaign Leader.  “With California’s population expected to hit 50 million by 2035, we can’t afford to just keep building more congested highways and airport runways that will cost us more money and keep us stuck in traffic, stuck on security lines at the airport, and ever more dependent on oil. Our transportation system alone consumes more oil than any country in the world besides China.”

Last week, the Senate voted against President Obama’s Jobs Bill, which contained $4 billion in funding for increased U.S. high speed rail capacity.  Part of today’s rally was to push for his provision’s inclusion  in follow up legislation to be considered by Congress in the coming weeks.

Students members of CALPIRG also asked passerbyers to snap a picture of themself holding an “I love trains” sign to Senators Boxer and Feinstein to show their support for High Speed Rail.  The good news is that both Senators have expressed support for High Speed Rail, and other forms of rail travel, in the past with Boxer releasing a press release every time USDOT gives more funds to the California project.

  • Anonymous

    Want to know who is the main, driving force behind this boondoggle?  The entities that are driving Democratic politicians to keep supporting a project that will not pencil out, will require hundreds of billions to construct (due to mega project cost overruns) and require billions in yearly operating subsidies because no one but business travelers will be
    able to afford the high ticket prices – who are these entities behind HSR?  Well, watch this video and public comment from the CA Sentate Transportation Committee hearing on May 3, 2011 (where State Senator LaMalfa’s state Senate Bill 22 to defund the CAHSRA and project was being
    discussed).  In the OPPOSITION public comment to this bill you can see who speaks against LaMalfa: 
    1. California Labor Federation (union); 
    2. State Operating Engineers (union); 
    3. State Buildings and Construction Trades Council (union); 
    4. California State Federation of Laborers (union); 
    5. State Laborer’s Council (union); 
    6. Contractors/Vendors standing to make money off the project (i.e. Siemens/Parson’s Brinkerhoff, etc.)  

    The Unions support Democratic politicos, from Governor Brown, to Galgliani, etc.  There is also a revolving door between former public sector Democratic politicos then going “in house” with fat “non-public” employment contracts that
    aren’t subject to a California Public Records Act Request (under Cal. Govt. Code)  for review of those contract – so they need to make sure the boondoggle and BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACTS are still being awarded when they leave office – it’s about the money, money, money – that’s it:

  • Anonymous

    I hope these kids love high speed rail.
    They are going to be paying for it their entire lives.

  • Sprague

    And who supports highway construction?  That’s right, pretty much the same folks.  Instead of blowing our treasure on more highways, let’s invest it in clean, green transportation.  This project can be done right.  And this project is a fitting undertaking for a state that is working hard to protect the environment and that is planning, preparing and building for a greener tomorrow.

    Thank you to the CalPIRG activists for sticking their necks out and fighting the good fight to finally develop a statewide, sustainable transportation network.

  • Phin

    Way to go CALPIRG students!  Some day you’ll point to the long-established high-speed line and tell your grandchildren that you helped make it happen. They won’t be able to imagine California without it.

  • dsiple

    High-speed rail in CA, as it’s proposed is ridiculous – Who’s going to ride it to Victorville?It’s hard enough to get Californians out of their cars, and the routes proposed are ridiculous.  Take the money and put it to use where it’s needed most – mass transit.

  • betterfuture

    People have to get that USA is a car country! People that think transportation is more importation then cars will never understand the car culture, and freedom.
    USA will always be a car country and it will not change.
    High speed rail is the biggest waste of money and hopefully it doesn’t get built.  If it does then we are gonna lose more money for this country.
     Fuck the people who voted yes for the Los Angeles County Measure R tax and the Prop 1A for high speed rail.  If anything, the highways and more for cars should be built.
    People will never understand why people are attached to their cars. The people can use their car all they want when they want and plan their own schedule. I am tired of hearing how USA should be like the 3rd world countries (forgein countries) that don’t even like us and want to destroy freedom.  Anyone that supports  high speed rail or these libreal and socialist adgenda like the Measure R tax and support USA following other forgein countries is a dougebag and hate’s people’s liberty. That’s right.
    The govenorment needs to cut spending, NOT waste anymore money on useless crap like this.


CALPIRG, Videos, Prop. 1A and…Kevin Bacon?

Yesterday CALPIRG released a new one-minute video short showing members discussing why they are supporting Proposition 1A, the High Speed Rail bonding measure that will appear on next week’s ballot.  Reasons to support the proposition range from California’s needs, to the environmental benefits of rail, to it just being "hella awesome." To support their video […]

CALPIRG Rallies Students for Prop. 1A, High Speed Rail

CALPIRG, one of the most visible supporters of Proposition 1a, which would provide funds for a High Speed Rail service from San Francisco to San Diego, hosted an open forum on the project earlier today at UCLA.  Handing out t-shirts, buttons, signs and other paraphanalia, the forum almost seemed more of a sporting event than […]

California College Student Rally for Rail

While the Metro Board debated service cuts and legislation in Sacramento, a group of college students rallied with Councilman Tom LaBonge and staff for Congresswoman Diane Watson in support of a high-speed rail route that would connect San Francisco to San Diego yesterday morning. Roughly 50 students from CALPIRG’s student chapters are traveling the proposed […]

The High Speed Rail Debate Moves to the New York Times

The New York Times yesterday published a series of six opinion pieces debating the merits of the $90 billion High-Speed Rail plan that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco. Attacks have intensified on the “bullet train” rail project in recent weeks, focused mainly on the projects gigantic $90 billion budget and a recent audit that called funding for […]

CalPIRG Sponsors Smart Transportation Conference Next Friday

Next Friday, CalPIRG is hosting a major conference about what the upcoming reauthorization of the federal Transportation Trust Fund could mean for Los Angeles, if we want it enough.  New federal language in transportation funding legislation could bring major changes to Los Angeles and the rest of the country.  However, CalPIRG is perfectly able to […]