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    The original plan was to have completely separated HSR tracks from San Jose to San Francisco.

    The current “blended plan” shares tracks between HSR & CalTrain and (assuming I understand correctly) will accommodate freight at night when no passenger trains are in the vicinity.


    Sean Hughes

    I witnessed someone hit by a car and it took three months to remember he actually wasn’t crossing against the light, so much for believing a witness.



    As our man @pchazz would say – “Is it too much to ask for drivers to be sober, and not hit and run!”


    Andy Chow

    Seriously i’ve followed HSR issues before Prop 1A and I don’t understand “the plan” that you talked about. Seriously have you been to any meetings or talked to any planners? I don’t come to my conclusion because I don’t have any grand vision, but because I know that it is politically hard to get anything done these days, and that the best path to level boarding is through a graceful transition like some of the light rail systems have done (VTA light rail, etc), rather than through what Muni has done. An East Coast height pretty much ensures a Muni type transition which may never be completed (see Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and commuter rail like SEPTA, NJ Transit).


    Andy Chow

    I don’t disagree about the importance of Transbay, but there’s still a lot more planning that is needed before suggesting Caltrain to use East Coast height, if HSR chooses to use East Coast height. No one at this point has done a operational analysis with the same rigor as developing the timetable for the next schedule change. All the “train schedules” that you see in the planning documents are meaningless.

    HSR right now is a blank sheet system, with no legacy standard (there’s no mandate to use same height as East Coast) or a group of users with strong political influence (cyclists). The story should be about how HSR can be more compatible with Caltrain, rather than putting the burden on Caltrain and communities that are served by Caltrain and not HSR. The ball is on HSR’s court, should they go East Coast height, then forget about compatibility. Not that other issues like Transbay capacity cannot be resolved, but that will require alternative solutions that Clem quickly dismissed.



    Today’s Sacramento Bee:

    Injured midtown resident challenges Sacramento law allowing sidewalk cycling



    The plan has always been to rebuild the CalTrain route as passenger-only as part of CA HSR, not some half-assed “high speed” route like Accela. What evidence do you have that this plan has been changed?



    With what evidence do you say that freight is being retired on the Peninsula corridor. That would be easier for passenger rail, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this, the freight customers say they want to keep running.


    Chris J.

    Wouldn’t it also be cool if the energy from pedaling the bike helped propel the vehicle forward? Sounds like they’re on to something..



    All the rail will need to be replaced??? Where do you get that idea.

    This was the plan since day one. The combined HSR/CalTrain goal has always been to share rails. In no way is the circa 2000 era CalTrain “Baby Bullet” infrastructure sufficient to deliver HSR. The few remaining freight lines are also being retired as a result of HSR.


    Andy Chow

    All the rail will need to be replaced??? Where do you get that idea. No one is suggesting building a complete 4 track corridor. Because of the current train operation and CPUC requirements, any platform that Caltrain will built in a forseeable future due to grade separation and such will be limited to 8 inches.

    Any change in height is a big deal. When VTA had to increase platform height by a few inches, they had to create a special design in downtown San Jose to maintain pedestrian flow and cross platform transfers with the buses. The downtown businesses thought it as a big deal even if the construction only takes a few months.



    Nothing about this project is a “snap.” For interoperability, CalTrain is getting an all new fleet of electric trains and all of the rail will need to be replaced. Adjusting platform height isn’t a big deal when you consider that most of the stations will need to be renovated or replaced to support the new track configuration.

    I’d also like to suggest that redesigning HSR train standards is really the last thing the project needs at this point.


    Andy Chow

    I will let the rail designers and engineers say whether that can be done or not. Rather than some activists think it is not but suggesting that Caltrain can just transition to the East Coast platform height in a snap.


    Aaron Bialick

    Ah, I was confused about which witness you were talking about.


    Andy Chow

    High Speed Rail at this point is still at a early planning stage, and unless there’s a strong long term political commitment, the project could be canceled or significantly altered. I can tell you that it will need more commitment than what Jerry Brown can provide for the next four years. If by that time the political climate results in a Republican governor, then all bets are off.

    That said, it would be a dumb move for Caltrain to use East Coast height platform. Until all the platforms are retrofitted, trains would have 4 or more steps like the present gallery cars do and would provide zero interim benefits for the disabled and cyclists. If somehow the High Speed Rail project changes or got cancelled, then Caltrain will get stuck with a legacy standard for a purpose that is no longer needed.

    What if Caltrain doesn’t have the funding for high platforms, or somehow couldn’t get around the CPUC regulations? Caltrain will get stuck with cars that boards like the gallery cars. I take their comment about willingness to financially Caltrain to make the system more compatible with a grain of salt.

    You keep pointing out the Millbrae tunnel and San Jose, but remember that there are alternative solutions to provide dedicated platforms at those locations without tunneling or building overhead. There may be other reasons that having dedicated platforms would be operationally beneficial. The benefits of having the ability to share platforms at those stations are marginal at best.

    Looking back, it was a foolish move for Muni Metro to transition to high platforms. The rationale for transitioning to high platforms for Muni was the same as Caltrain, except that low floor vehicles wasn’t an option until 20 years later after construction. Muni might have thought that someday all the stations would have high platforms, but that was never the case, either because of lack of funding or community oppositions, so now it is buying a 3rd generation of high floor vehicles for low and high floor boardings. Systems that were built with low platforms have a more graceful and complete transition (both from cost, riding experience, and accessibility) to at or near level boardings with low floor vehicles than systems that chose to convert from low to high platforms.

    So I think the question should be reversed. Shouldn’t high speed rail be using a low floor height to be compatible with Caltrain, and figure out alternative solutions (including getting waiver from ADA laws) for platforms at Transbay to be usable by both, in the event that HSR can’t use vehicles with lower floor. Caltrain should never be in a position to bend backwards. Caltrain should first pick a height that would provide the best and the most graceful transition for level boarding. If HSR can join Caltrain, then that’s great.



    Since that was blocks away from the incident, that is not the “witness” who claimed that the pedestrian was jaywalking


    Jeffrey Baker

    I don’t know, I’m not a transit planner. All I know is it was a lot faster taking that empty bus than it is riding all the way up the hill on a bicycle. Perhaps the ridership would have been better if the attractions in Montclair were a bit more attractive. As it stands there’s little reason to visit if you don’t live there.

    The main theme of my suggestion was that perhaps the services cut in 2009 include some lines worth restoring.



    We witnessed it. We were walking on the other side. The pedestrian was trying to opportunistically cross before the traffic hit. He was jaywalking. Having said that, the car was speeding and when the man was hit and flew 10 feet or so before landing on the roof, the driver put his foot on the gas and sped away with guy on roof. We all screamed in shock. We came forward as witnesses when we saw the police on market and testified. I wish more people had come forward then. There were folks that said they saw his shoes fly off….so traumatizing.



    If high speed trains could have a lower floor level, that’s great. If there’s a compromise height somewhere in between, it should not be much higher than today’s Bombardier cars to permit direct boarding to the bottom level for better disabled and bike access, and allow efficient non-level boarding until the day that all or most of the platforms are retrofitted.

    Thanks but no thanks — at high speeds you want a nice thick buffer zone between yourself and the stationary ground below. Safety requirements at 200 MPH are no joke.


    Clem Tillier

    In my opinion shared platforms at Transbay are non-negotiable for Caltrain’s future growth.

    The ridership potential of Transbay is enormous, and calling the shared
    stations “less than 10% of all stations” is totally missing the point where ridership is concerned. Recall that today, census data shows that there are more jobs within 1/2 mile of Transbay than within 1/2 mile of every single stop from 4th & King to Gilroy COMBINED. The cluster of skyscrapers now going up is only going to increase this disparity. Caltrain must rise to the challenge of serving this massive demand, and terminating trains at 4th & King (because of lacking platform space at Transbay) is a self-defeating solution.

    Meanwhile, in Millbrae, shared platforms would eliminate a proposed tunnel worth about $1 billion to squeeze four platform tracks into the station without displacing BART. This cost is ~10x what it cost to build the entire Millbrae complex in the first place.

    Finally, in San Jose, shared platforms would completely eliminate the need to build a massive double-decker station for HSR with miles of aerial approach viaducts, again at savings easily reaching $1 billion.

    If Caltrain ends up with 51″ floors as a cost of entry, then so be it! I acknowledge the minor operational disadvantages, but they pale in comparison to the disastrous sub-optimality of separate station infrastructure for Caltrain and HSR. There are hundreds of high-platform commuter rail operations around the world, some of them even running high-capacity bi-level EMUs (Paris, Sydney, Moscow) and they are none the worse for it. Caltrain is a tiny little fish in a very big pond.

    Of course, 30″ is still the best compromise height for both HSR and
    Caltrain, but so far HSR doesn’t appear open to that idea. They are fixated on procuring train designs from 15 years in the past to fill a need they won’t have before another 15 years in the future…


    Aaron Bialick

    Indeed, it’s stated in the lede that the witness saw the vehicle stop outside his home.



    Good point. Has anyone asked the corner store if they have footage?



    I know the witness and he definitely is not the driver. Sent me pictures just after the incident.

    Readers of this site should know that information obtained from “witnesses” are probably siding with what streetsblog sides with.



    Sadly even if they make a full recovery theres a good chance they wont be able to remember all that well.



    Seriously. I just hope the victim of this crash is able to one day able to tell his own version of events.


    Conner Werty

    Building the highways had military/industrial motivations. So does maintaining a peninsula heavy rail in times of need. Such as moving debris after the next big earthquake. The key now is letting the new Caltrain electrified EMU’s be low floor and HSR be high floor, since HSR wont be as much of a regional commuter service as caltrain or bart is.



    Let’s see.

    Jaywalking ticket and Hit and Run, DUI, attempt to conceal evidence.

    Seems reasonable.



    The witness was probably the driver.



    Police are saying the pedestrian victim crossed against the light, but if we learned anything from the Amelie Le Moullac case, we shouldn’t be too quick to trust SFPD’s version of the story without obtaining video if possible.



    Then apparently it is too much to ask if you can’t actually ask it.


    Dark Soul

    Driver fault and Person ( Jay walker) fault ????



    It was a rhetorical question…


    Andy Chow

    Although I support compatibility as a concept, I think there are number of technical and cost issues can make this not worthwhile. And if it is the case then this could be a distraction against other Caltrain priorities.

    If the story is, as some folks have suggested, that Caltrain should adopt East Coast platform height to be compatible with HSR, then I don’t think that common platform height would be a good idea. The cost to put high level platform is high, the visual impacts to communities would be more significant. Bi-level train sets would need to have doors located on the ends of the cars on top of the trucks, which results in poorer disabled and bike access (essentially bike riders would have to go through the steps to stow their bikes on the lower level since space is constrained on the mid level.)

    If high speed trains could have a lower floor level, that’s great. If there’s a compromise height somewhere in between, it should not be much higher than today’s Bombardier cars to permit direct boarding to the bottom level for better disabled and bike access, and allow efficient non-level boarding until the day that all or most of the platforms are retrofitted.

    If somehow CAHSRA doesn’t believe that their trains can go low floor for whatever reason, Caltrain shouldn’t bend backwards to follow HSRA. Realistically there are only 3 shared stations (less than 10% of all stations) and two of them have spaces for dedicated HSR platforms. Only one location where shared platform would be desirable. If that’s the case, should alternative solutions (including operational changes) be considered?



    No car lanes were removed for either of these projects. The only tangible difference to motorists (aside from reduced congestion) is that left turns off of eastbound Haight are now prohibited at Octavia.


    David D.

    Connections like that would help out, but would there be enough ridership to justify the extra expense? I could see the 49 being extended from Rockridge BART to Montclair via Broadway Terrace. It’s not quite the same as the old 59/59A, but then again the 59/59A was mostly empty, so maybe it would be better.



    Regarding prop B, SPUR has some interesting arguments against it in their voter guide.



    Oh boy, here we go again… the OpEd columnist for the Marin IJ:

    Dick Spotswood: Bicyclists should have licenses for themselves and bikes



    One of the really funny things about privileged majorities is they never seem to get…privilege. And how even the smallest emergence of something else brings on cries of oppression.

    Oh no, we’re going from 200% car-centric infrastructure to only 198%! Restore Balance!

    What these viewpoints also erroneously assume is that traffic demand is static, when it’s the car-centric infrastructure that creates its own demand for so much car traffic. The better alternatives you create = the fewer will drive = less road competition with other cars. Imagine if SF had no transit or bike infrastructure and everyone in the following scene were in their own car. It’d be pandemonium on the streets:

    Look how few drivers there are in the background and how much available space there is for those who do drive…precisely because the infrastructure here supports so many other modes. Yet it’s amazing how so many drivers just completely don’t get it. Instead of appreciating how many cars these take off the road clearing up room for them they perversely see the minority of space in the city devoted to transit/biking/walking as taking away room from *them* to drive on! Selfish. Insane. Unrealistic. Archaic.


    Alex Brideau III

    Right. Because car drivers have been so oppressed over the last 50-60 years.



    (Be sure to click through to the Streetview imagery. The embedded aerial map above is not what the link shows).



    Count me as deeply skeptical of SFPD’s account of the crash at Valencia and Duboce (i.e. that the victim was “outside of the crosswalk” or “crossing against the light”, depending on the news source). Did they bother to get video from nearby businesses? For reference, this intersection is a mess at the best of times. Watch as a pedestrian has to walk “outside of the crosswalk” just to get across the street with all the cars illegally stopped in the crosswalk:



    Gee, Ed, maybe growing a pair and making a real commitment to Vision Zero might result in fewer private ambulances needed in the future….just sayin’.



    Who are you asking?


    Jeffrey Baker

    Nice to see the transit agencies feeling flush. I don’t suppose they are considering restoring services that were recently cut? I bet the stops are still there …

    When I moved to Oakland there was a bus that ran between Montclair and Rockridge, connecting two major commercial areas. It was cancelled in 2009. Today you can go all the way around the other way via downtown on two buses, which takes over an hour, or you can take a cab. Sure would be nice to reconnect that edge of the network.

    Of course, if you think even further back, it used to be possible to catch an electric intercity streetcar from SF to Montclair and on all the way to Sacramento. We’ve lost a lot of ground.



    “Until you do, you are just one more wheeled vehicle.”

    That’s right: because bicycles and cars both have wheels, they are the same. Forget the 3000+ lb difference in weight, or the 200+ hp difference in power, or the dulling of the motorists sight and hearing due to the shell of the car, or that bicyclists are just as vulnerable as a pedestrian in an accident … all that matters is that they both have wheels and therefore they should be treated the same in the eyes of the law not to mention society at-large. Right?

    “If pedestrians are to align with bicyclists then bicyclists need to show a little respect to pedestrians.”

    Right! And the statistics bear out this complete lack of respect: cyclists injure a LOT of pedestrians. This isn’t just your own irrational opinion but a statement based on facts, isn’t it? I mean, the statistics make it clear that one of San Jose’s biggest safety issues is cyclists on sidewalks, right? And I’m sure you are using the statistics to guide your opinion on what are the true safety issues pedestrians face in our urban areas ….


    John McCready

    Way to flaunt that prejudice against car drivers! Make it next to IMPOSSIBLE for them to have ANY ROOM on the street for them to drive on! I am sure the tourists will love it, and those who don’t even know the Muni system, will flock in droves on to these street-hogging buses!



    I have endorsed street improvements that would make them safer for bicyclists. In exchange, all I request is that bicyclists show a modicum of respect to pedestrians. Is that really so much to ask?


    Andy Chow

    Have you seen the big very wide bike lanes on 3rd, 4th, 10th. 11th streets, Almaden Blvd, etc? The only major road that doesn’t have it is Santa Clara which is a designed BRT corridor and have bike lanes a block away on San Fernando Street.


    Andy Chow

    Most pedestrians walk to access other transportation modes, whether it is transit or their own cars. If your trip is 5 miles in length you would have to walk may be at most a few blocks to get to the nearest transit stop or the parking spot. Very few people would walk the entire 5 miles and make walking itself the sole transportation mode.

    People can obviously bike the entire distance of 5 miles, but cyclists tend to keep their bikes as close to them as possible and tend to ride their bikes (rather than walk with their bikes) whenever they have possession of their bikes. People may park their car in the parking garage and walk 2-3 blocks, but will cyclists do that? Or that they will keep their bikes with them and bike the entire way.

    A lot of pedestrian complaints about cyclists come from the elderly and disabled folks who have mobility issues and may have other health issues that make them hard to detect cyclists and avoid them. They don’t have to walk much because they are benefited from parking policies that favor the disabled.



    As read on Streetsblog (or on a link from the same article a few months ago), the SFMTA studied the impact of this new bus stop location on northbound 19th Avenue congestion and found it would be minimal.