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CA High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA)

Weekend Roundup: Bullet Train Orders, Fixing BART

...and Biketopia tickets on sale

3:22 PM PDT on August 25, 2023

Alstom’s facility in Hornell, New York, where Amtrak’s high-speed trains are built for the Northeast Corridor. California will soon be adding bids with Alstom or another manufacturer of high-speed trains. Photo: Amtrak

Here are a few Streetsblog news nuggets to start your weekend.

California shopping for bullet trains

Poso Creek. A view of the right of way now stretching to the horizon. Image: CaHSRA

With construction getting closer to completion on major structures in the Central Valley and funding in place to start laying tracks, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has now launched its effort to get the trains themselves. From a CAHSRA release issued Thursday:

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Board of Directors took a major step toward bringing high-speed rail service to California by approving the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to industry for the nation’s first 220 mph electrified high-speed trainsets. Today’s action is the first part of a two-step procurement process. The Authority anticipates getting Statements of Qualifications (SOQs) from prospective trainset manufacturers in November 2023. Once received, the Authority will evaluate the SOQs and create a shortlist of qualified teams capable of delivering high-speed trainsets and release a Request for Proposal in the first quarter of 2024 to qualified teams. 

This will allow the Authority to:

  • Procure six trainsets capable of operating at 220 mph and tested up to 242 mph; 
  • Receive two prototypes in 2028 to support static/dynamic testing and trial running; 
  • Receive an additional four trainsets by the end of 2030 to support revenue operations on the 171-mile Merced to Bakersfield section. 

“These trainsets ensure that we are procuring the latest generation of high-speed trains for this first-in-the-nation project,” said Authority CEO Brian Kelly in the statement. “We look forward to working with members of the industry as we strive to develop a market for high-speed trains in the United States.”

As Streetsblog examined in an online discussion with experts, pressure is mounting to get the project finished faster. Streetsblog will, of course, continue to monitor these developments.

BART continues modernization work

Crews replacing aging tracks on BART. Photo: BART

In 2016, voters approved Measure RR, a $3.5 billion bond measure to help BART meet its maintenance needs. A new annual report shows it's paying off, with a system that is more reliable than ever. From a BART release on the report:

The independent Bond Oversight Committee’s new Annual Report says through March 2023 $1.57 billion of Measure RR funds had been invested in rebuilding the backbone of BART. There are now 152 RR-supported projects that are in planning, design, construction, or have been completed. A total of 48 projects are complete, up from 36 when the committee issued its previous annual report in 2022.
 
46% of all anticipated Measure RR work has already been completed. The Bond Oversight Committee wrote the progress is ahead of projections made by BART in 2016 when Measure RR was put before BART District voters. The committee wrote it “believes BART is delivering rebuilding projects in a timely manner and that the work is improving the reliability and safety of the system.”

The study also found that there was substantial completion of the 34.5kV (kilovolt) traction power cable replacement work in downtown San Francisco and that the replacement of tracks in the Transbay Tube are also done.

From a rider perspective, the takeaway is this: The number of service delays due to rail-related issues dropped from 217 in 2021 to 95 in 2022.

Bike East Bay starts selling tickets to Biketopia

A rendering of planned improvements to 14th in downtown Oakland. Image: city of Oakland

The East Bay had a string of recent victories, including Oakland City Council's approval of a project to install protected bike lanes, bus boarding islands, and wider sidewalks on 14th Street. Emeryville approved the design of a two-way cycle track and dedicated bus lanes on 40th Street. And Alameda approved a cross-town, separated and elevated two-way bikeway on Grand.

That puts the leading advocacy organization on the sunny side of the Bay in a good place to promote its annual fundraising event, Biketopia. From a Bike East Bay release:

We're excited to announce that Biketopia 2023 tickets are live! Join your best bike friends for Bike East Bay's annual member party, silent auction, and fundraiser.

  • When: Thursday, October 5, 2023 from 5-8pm
  • Where: California Ballroom, Uptown Oakland (1736 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612)

Funds raised at Biketopia power our advocacy, education, community organizing, and engagement work throughout the year. Celebrate 2023 member-powered wins, support fantastic protected bike lanes coming in 2024 while enjoying good eats and drinks with your bike friends. 

Tickets are only $30 for current members, $60 if you need to renew (or join!), and include a free drink ticket and refreshments. You must be a Bike East Bay Member to attend Biketopia.

Tickets can be pre-ordered here.

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