Skip to content

Recent Comments



    Superweak. Has there been many – or any – terrorist attacks using bicycles?? Bike parking could be located at a distance from the stadium that would reduce the effect of any hypothetical bike bomb. Even key targets in SF have bollards only 20′-50′ from the face of the building, meaning a large truck full of explosives could still get reasonably close. I think bike parking 100′-500′ from the stadium would not be a problem. I think the NFL is being a little too paranoid here.



    City officials lied in an official document, and they should be held to account, but this is beside the point. A very expensive stadium was built with bridges over the creek to reach the parking lot. The bridges should have gone over the trail as well for complete grade separation. It’s really that simple.

    This would have also solved the problem of stadium goers leaving broken glass on the trail before they drive home drunk. Talk about an environmental impact…



    No one’s talking about replacing travel options, but adding to them.

    If you stop at LA and don’t have high speed rail to Anaheim, you still need to use a car.

    1) Perhaps, but remember CAHSR is about giving more people more options for more trips, not completely replacing any one travel mode for all people all the time.

    Btw, lots of people currently fly into LA and then get a rental car if they want/need it. It’s not hard.

    2) LA’s rapidly growing Metro system is giving more people more options to take more trips by rail. Will rail replace all car trips? Nope. Again, it’s about adding options.

    3) Btw, even as things stand today with un-high speed rail the train trip from LA Union Station to Anaheim is only 38 minutes. Try *that* at Friday rush hour on the 5!

    The last time I visited LA I actually did exactly that–I got around to/from places as disparate as Anaheim, Culver City, NoHo, Los Feliz, Hollywood, K-Town, DTLA, etc. all via train.

    And I guarantee you on most if not all of those trips I got to those places faster than if I’d been driving. Plus, I could enjoy a beer or two with my carnitas and not worry about being too buzzed to drive. This is yet another huge advantage to not having to drive for every trip in LA all the time.

    Again, of course Metro doesn’t go to, say, Mulholland. There will always be a need for cars for some trips. But expanded train options gives a lot more people better options for many trips.



    Air travel is already very heavily subsidized. To make it “cheaper” (if by that you mean cheaper end-user tickets) would mean even more of the massive amounts of taxpayer money that are already spent subsidizing air travel every year.

    Most years governmental subsidies to air travel exceed airlines’ profits. Air travel is very, very much subsidized already.



    Including precisely the areas CAHSR is going through. Also, the vast majority of Spaniards also live in urbanized areas.

    Btw, not only will CAHSR link the two most heavily populated regions in California, it will also pass through and serve areas that are not exactly tiny villages, either. The San Joaquin Valley is home to 4 million people and is currently the fastest growing mega-region in the state.

    The Fresno metropolitan area alone has about 1 million people, and the Bakersfield area is nearing that. These are not all exactly small-town villages.

    More evidence of the pent-up demand for rail in the Central Valley alone? As things stand today *two* of the top 6 busiest Amtrak routes *in the entire country* are in the Central Valley; the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin lines. And the San Joaquin line doesn’t even connect (directly) to LA! If that many people are taking a route which clearly leaves something to be desired imagine how many more would take it if it actually went more places, and faster.



    While I agree that Musk should have checked all the facts on CHR before criticizing the project, the fact remains that if both projects were completed and functioned as projected, most people would prefer a trip that takes 30-45 minutes rather than 2 hours and 40 min. If a Hyperloop system could indeed be built for less than half the cost of the train, and capacity was an issue, then they just build a 2 tube system. There would probably be quite a bit of cost savings realized on the 2nd tube if it shared the rights of way, etc.

    I just read over the proposal for CHR, and they estimate an initial order of 16 trains, each required to hold 450 people. Each train could make about 8 one-way trips back and forth per day (though 6-7 is more likely). 16 trains x 8 trips x 450 people = 57,600 people moved per day.

    Hyperloop capacity would be limited mostly by the time between departures. If cars carrying 28 people left every 2 minutes each direction for the entire day, the calculation would be 1440 minutes in a day = 720 trips x 2 directions x 28 people = 40,320 people per day. Not really that far off from CHR, actually.

    Of course Hyperloop still has a ways to go to even prove concept. Once they get through that, maybe they should do an initial track between LA and Vegas before committing to a major undertaking like LA to SF. We live in a very cool time, to be sure.



    Why not?

    1) expanding airport capacity will also be costly
    2) airplanes only run on greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels. You can’t fly a plain on solar, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.
    3) Flying isn’t really faster than HSR when you consider the time to reach airports outside of the city and time to pass security



    “Actually, California’s density is comparable to that of many Western European nations and northeastern US states”

    A point that’s too often overlooked though, is that while overall density may be comparable, California’s population is almost 100% urban, in that Californians almost exclusively live in the large metro areas/cities.


    cynthia curran

    HIgh speed rail doesn’t replaced cars. If you stop at LA and don’t have high speed rail to Anaheim, you still need to use a car.


    cynthia curran

    A plane is much faster than high speed rail. Why, not make air travel more cheaper. This prevents problems in the air of course.


    cynthia curran

    Good point, the counties you mention have a population of over 16 million. Its a better test case. The Chinese are building high speed rail between an LA suburb and Las Vegas. It will probably be done first.



    If you’re going to insist on adding lanes, at least make them 10′ wide instead of 11′ or 12′. It looks like you have 10 lanes to cross at at least one intersection…narrowing lanes from 12′ to 10′ shortens the crossing distance by 20′ with minimal effect on capacity.



    California is too large and not densely populated enough to deserve HSR, whereas places like Western Europe or the Northeast from Boston to DC are great places for high speed rail.

    Actually, California’s density is comparable to that of many Western European nations and northeastern US states which already have HSR:

    “California, for example, has just over 90 people per square kilometer (234 per square mile), while Spain has 88 people per square kilometer (231 per square mile).”

    see if it would be possible to build an economically feasible HSR line that doesn’t require billions in government subsidies.

    The most common forms of transportation in the US–very much including driving and flying–all currently receive many dozens of billions in subsidies we all collectively pay for as taxpayers. Every year.

    Since the 1920s–yes, for almost a century–the US Congress has massively subsidized air travel. In fact, most years taxpayer subsidies towards flying have exceeded airlines’ profits. Similarly, the paltry gas tax and vehicle license fees come nowhere close to paying for road and highway infrastructure. Those are also massively subsidized by federal and local taxes.

    The argument for massive subsidies towards driving and flying is that we all collectively benefit economically from these subsidies.

    Why should rail be the only form of getting around that is held to a different standard?

    not expensive boondoggles that won’t even directly connect to LA on high-speed track.

    CAHSR will directly connect to Los Angeles.



    Thank you for your post. You brought up some very solid points. I would like to question a couple of your positions if you don’t mind (and let me know if you do mind, I really don’t want to get involved with a negatively charged back and forth, I’d rather actually have a discussion with an apparently reasonable and informed individual on this issue).

    1. The Test Case Method – I often question the test case method with respect to the construction of larger infrastructure (particularly in America). This method has the potential for some very positive and very negative outcomes. You spoke of some the positives (buildup of public support, usually a cheaper buy-in amount). But in larger infra projects,negatives can outweigh the positives. In this instance, lack of a sizable enough build-out to actually create a useful enough product is a real concern (See initial build outs of bike share). Also, stae and local governments and residents are pretty feeble. When money is available, you might as well plan for the full build-out, because the money is likely going to be re-allocated at the next election cycle or until you make whatever your product is mainstream, which brings me to my next point.

    2. Transportation Cost Justification – People often consider money spen (and usually the amount does not matter) on non-auto transportation infrastructure it is considered a boondoogle. Without much fanfare or media coverage, We spend far more on highways every couple of years than the amount they want to spend on the HSR over its entire construction build-out

    The money is going to be spent. Why not move less than 1% of California’s yearly transportation budget on a reasonable alternative to increase mobility for its on sake. Why does train transportation have to make money, but its OK to loose copious amounts of money on auto and airport projects. The purpose should not be to take people out of their cars, or off of planes, it is simply to add mobility for the people of the state. I don’t understand why the term “government subsidy” is often used so negatively. One of the central points of government is to subsidize things that we all think are important for our communal benefit.

    Also, the corruption argument is actually moot here. All industries that use the transfer of money to settle “debts both personal and private” have some form of corruption (both legal and illegal). People tend to only use the argument “you’re lining someone else’s pockets” because they don’t understand the nature of that industry nor how it positively affects their lives

    3. Do you know why construction of large transportation infrastructure is costly?

    I’d really like to hear what you think about this. I work in construction and I can tell you where most of the costs are associated. I will say that usually it has very little (if anything) to do with technological innovations.



    “an economically feasible HSR line that doesn’t require billions in government subsidies”

    All transportation is subsidized.

    Can’t afford HSR? The reality is we cannot afford not to. Of course, the benefits will be reaped 30 years down the line, and Americans have reached the point where 60 year olds no longer build useful things that they themselves will never use. Which self-perpetuates as it makes things so difficult to build that the likelihood of anyone who makes decisions on projects ever uses said project approaches zero.



    ” It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!” – Emiliano Zapata



    Exactly. I appreciate well thought out arguments grounded in reality.


    Cameron Newland

    It seems like the Streetsblog team is getting a little defensive about HSR in California and has resorted to unfairly attacking a choice few of Elon Musk’s comments. Try being more objective and less emotional for once.

    One thing that Musk is absolutely right about is that HSR in California carries an outlandish cost. Obviously, he couldn’t build a hyperloop for 1/10 the cost, and I’m glad you called him out on that, but California ought to be building transportation projects that are real game-changers, not expensive boondoggles that won’t even directly connect to LA on high-speed track.

    California HSR was a bad idea in the first place. California is too large and not densely populated enough to deserve HSR, whereas places like Western Europe or the Northeast from Boston to DC are great places for high speed rail. One good idea would’ve been to build HSR from San Diego to Orange County to LA as a test case to see if it would be possible to build an economically feasible HSR line that doesn’t require billions in government subsidies. If they were able to keep construction costs under control and build the track out in such a way that they wouldn’t have to slow down to 70MPH through Los Angeles, then that might’ve offered some positive arguments toward building the line to San Francisco. Unfortunately, a project that never made financial sense in the first place is seeing ballooning costs and will require ever greater operating subsidies in the future. California HSR as it is currently proceeding is simply a giveaway to state contractors and a drain on public coffers, and only something revolutionary, along the lines of what Elon Musk is proposing, would offer any chance of saving the project.

    HSR or Hyperloop is not the real debate here. The real debate is the choice between a money-losing giveaway to contractors and something that is revolutionary on a cost-of-construction or cost-of-operation basis. Even if Elon Musk’s $6 hyperloop is a fantasy, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a $25B option that would be superior to what we’re building now.



    The grades are too steep for normal traction so the only way to get rail through the grapevine on the I-5 ROW would be to use a cog railway system which maxes out at about 20 MPH. . Not really compatible with a high speed system.

    HSR is gonna have to tunnel through the mountains. So would hyperloop.



    Anyone who wants to R&D the Hyperloop is welcome to do so. The issue here is that it’s being used to discredit Calkfornia High Speed Rail by demonstrating a supposedly better alternative to the technology being used by that project. And the fact that there are such glaring flaws in the technology proposal and the cost estimates to build it, and that Musk is not putting any of his own time or money into it, suggests that the concept only exists to prevent CAHSR from being built by eroding public support for the project.

    It’s obvious why Musk would want to kill CAHSR – he’s a car manufacturer, and cars will be the mode that is most displaced when CAHSR eventually comes online. So, don’t believe the hype; the Hyperloop is nothing more than a clever political strategy to keep the car as king in California.


    Chris J.

    People need to respect other people, … Let’s try to be nicer to one another and get along.

    It’s easy to say this. But the harder question is what to do when someone isn’t being nice, respecting others, etc. Do you silently let it happen, try to politely nudge the person, or really take a solid stand, like Casey did?


    Ziggy Tomcich

    The potential of hyperloop is enormous; it’s the only post-petroleum alternative to air travel that can completely transform our society. I don’t understand why we can’t have both HSR and hyperloop. We have both streets and highways! We should be building HSR and rebuilding our ancient rail network throughout Ca, while supporting R&D into hyperloop.



    But that would be true for high speed rail if it were built this way as well.

    I don’t think rail could go over the Grapevine.





    It’s also worth pointing out that Muni Metro’s 9:30 PM closure time ended right before the Super Bowl events began, meaning there’s an extra 3.5 hours or so per day for people to ride Muni Metro.


    Karen Lynn Allen

    If the Hyperloop was built just taking up a lane each way on I-5 with no stations between SF and LA, (no grading, no viaducts, no tunneling, no land acquisition) it might only cost double the $6 billion Musk is projecting. But that would be true for high speed rail if it were built this way as well. Moreover, the Hyperloop, with a tube of 28 passengers departing every two minutes in both directions could carry a maximum of 1680 passengers per hour. Whereas high speed rail’s max capacity is estimated to be 12,000 passengers per hour.

    One of the criticisms of California high speed rail is not that it’s too slow, but too fast, that it’s pushing the envelope of speed feasibility. Only one rail line in the world currently operates at an average speed as fast or faster than CA HSR projections, a TGV express line in France.

    Now, if hot air could power a rail line . . .



    Prospects of hyperloop and self-driving cars risk derailing credible transit via the Osborne effect. Even worse if the technologies are not feasible in the near term.


    Roger R.

    The Musk proposal is to only have a partial vacuum in the tube and use the turbine to draw air around the craft, with a linear induction motor propelling the train forward.


    Roger Rudick

    That’s one of Elon Musk’s proposed solutions–only partially evacuate it and use a battery powered turbine on the pod to move the air around.



    The image above looks more like a turbine-propelled Maglev train than anything in a vacuum tube. Being propelled by a turbine would preclude it from operating in a vacuum, would it not?



    After 6, the bridge approach from Folsom was moving, but buses couldn’t get there. One departing bus did exit on Beale, but the supervisors must have had some reason to rethink that, as it never happened again.


    Jeffrey Baker

    Yeah, but the cops were directing traffic down Beale to Folsom and then letting them go down Folsom to the bridge, which is normally bus-only territory.

    I’m not going to defend the design of the terminal. It’s crazy and has become gridlocked before. The buses should be allowed to exit at either Folsom or Beale.



    I got there at 5:30 for a 5:34 bus, the terminal was already at a standstill, my bus finally reached the (traffic free) bridge at 7. The cops may have started it, but AC Transit turned it into an event through a simple lack of planning. There was no centralized management and limited communication, the supervisors directing traffic had no idea how to avoid gridlock within and around the terminal. AC Transit central control had to broadcast on the bus radios to plead for a driver get a supervisor to call them, as they couldn’t reach any of them.

    Buses would get waved into the terminal by a supervisor, only to find that they couldn’t reach their slot, or if they could, there would already be a bus there trying to get out. By about 6 there was a solid loop of motionless buses from the terminal exit back around to the entrance, and in both directions within the terminal, preventing departing buses from leaving the terminal to reach the bridge approach which was by then clearing.



    soon enough pretty much all cars will have multiple cameras – probably 12 – for various driver assist functions – lane changes, braking, backing up, etc… Given that a car costs well into 5 figures at the least, putting however much SDRAM into the computer system won’t be a backbreaker, and they can just continuously record all 12 cameras and then trigger to stop x seconds after an incident.

    Should make drivers a little more cautious knowing the car is watching them!

    Then we’ll have a rash of cyclists pounding on cars in order to trigger the video capture to keep the recording!




    Bernard Finucane

    You could easily increase the number of lanes without widening the street.


    Jeffrey Baker

    The bus station meltdown last night was caused by the cops. They could have done something smart, but instead they directed cars up what are normally bus-only streets. Those cars should have just stood where they were, or been directed in a loop north of Market to 1st to get on the bridge. Much better to block a few dozen motorists than hundreds of bus riders.


    tommy t

    I do think that any driver who has ever road-raged should lose his license, even if he didn’t commit physical assault like throwing a full water bottle.



    Hello – Why was a private car on this block of Market? Did the police ticket the driver for illegally driving in a private-car-free zone? Did they find out why the a**hole passenger fled? On probation, perhaps? Was the driver tested for drugs/alcohol?
    Meanwhile, it’s heartening to see a courageous cyclist stand up to an a-hole driver. I wish she would have flattened both of them!



    Private vehicles are banned on this part of Market. Driver was there illegally.



    “More on BART and Muni Rideship Surge from Super Bowl Events”

    Do we have any idea how much of this is from people attending Super Bowl events vs people who normally drive or take buses who are taking alternate routes due to all the closures?



    Looks like Millbrae is moving backwards at a time when most Bay Area cities are moving forward.


    Charles Siegel

    There are many places where every single car violates the speed limit laws. If you drive at the speed limit on any freeway or on many city streets during non-congested hours, every car will pass you.


    City Resident

    The SFMTA invites and encourages public participation in many ways, including public meetings but also online surveys. Comments from the public can be submitted by email, etc. All SFMTA proposals are announced years in advance. Few, if any, public processes are more open.


    City Resident

    Thank you for covering these very negative planned lane additions. Millbrae has it backwards. Downtown Millbrae is a charming area, with many businesses all within just a few blocks of this BART/Caltrain station. Yet it’s a haven of free parking as there are no parking meters there. El Camino Real is already terrible for pedestrians to cross, especially at intersections without traffic lights. And bicycling along it is only for the brave. Downtown Millbrae and all of the retail and office areas along El Camino Real, north and south of Millbrae Avenue, would be ideal for bicycling and walking, were it not for the car-dominated streets. With roadway expansions now in the works, it will only become even more hostile to anyone not sheathed in a car’s glass and steel.


    David J.

    Fine work, Ms. Dilou.
    I feel fortunate in seldom encountering people that aggro, and have
    still wanted to chase down many a motorist for a wide range of bike
    disrespect. Motorists, can we please start with regularly using turn
    signals when it isn’t completely unequivocal where you’re going . . . ?


    Cáit ní Cheallaigh

    Seriously? Cars just drive right through. It’s gross.



    Just you try to be a cyclist SB on El Camino north of the station and figure out how to get to the station. Next to impossible


    Fay Nissenbaum

    Combining the Muicipal Railway with Dept of Parking & Traffic was a collosal mistake. It created the MTA which now is fed by parking money making the MTA an impregnable agency with a constant source of money. Half of the 7th floor at 1 S. Van Ness should be fired tomorrow. Instead of designing apps for iphones so gawd ferbid, riders dont have to carry one of those heavy clipper cards, they should be designing apps to keep the buses from bunching and getting the damnable buses cleaned. All public tranist should serve one question: “How can they improve the passenger experience?” *Muni sells more bicycles than anyone* The muniserable experience is why I got a used bike a year ago.


    City Resident

    I agree that this is very much a car-first kind-of-place and pedestrian, bicycle and transit use is just an afterthought, at best. However, having the ECR again make the lengthy detour over the bridge and into the station’s transit plaza is very inefficient for the majority of the ECR’s passengers. Having the ECR remain on El Camino Real for more of its trip was a smart redesign. (It’s bad enough that it has to leave El Camino Real to access both the San Bruno and Colma stations.)