Town Square

A Train to Nowhere?

Original post made by Tom Cushing, Danville, on Jan 10, 2012

I am generally a fan of massive public works projects. BART and the Golden Gate and Bay bridges locally, the space program and the interstate highway system are all examples of bold undertakings started in another era, which will pay multiple dividends far into the uncharted future.

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Posted by Ralph N. Shirlet
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your commentary on local elections. Reading between the line it seems you favor the status quo.

Care to be more specific?

Ralph, kidding on the Square

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Posted by Tom Cushing
a resident of Danville
on Jan 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Between the lines is all I've opined on the subject, as you obviously know. ;-)

It seemed to me that I was being dragged into a controversy I have not yet followed. Truth be told, I gave up on the CCTimes last year, after a particularly egregious piece of propaganda pushed me past the brink. As I recall, it had to do with the repeal of DA/DT, and the article they published badly miss-represented the Corps' and the Marines' positions on the subject. It was a last straw kind of thing; I'd been looking for an excuse, even though they had failed to bill me for the previous six months. Sometimes free just isn't worth it.

Maybe I'll need to find an alternative, as I believe that Madam Editor would appreciate some state/local coverage. Any ideas?

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Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

Dear Tom and Editor,

I took time yesterday to discuss this exchange with media members of CDSI Research Fellowship to better prepare a contribution to this discussion. Thus, first, after experiencing high speed rail in Europe and Asia over the past 20 years I can support our need for such transportation but point to politics as our inability to achieve any meaningful result.

It is the politics we see in Contra Costa County that demonstrates why our governments are not active innovators. Politics has become a technology unto itself fully established to prosper individual politicians and little else.

In another exchange on this forum, we are discussing 2040 when a very tired BART that does not go to new economic centers at speed and convenience will be the subject of "why didn't we do something about this 20, 30, 50 years ago." Our children's children will be simply wondering about more highways and the lack of solutions found in light rail, rapid bus systems, and traditional rail alternatives.

In humor, it is likely Danville will still be working on their heritage planning and no more economically successful as a economic center. Might we expect a fully-electric, sustainable stage coach with robotic horses??

So, where do WE, the people, start to make a change?. Tom, as you pointed out, media must change from political subservience to interactive, immediate discussion of issues and resolutions. Politics must be challenged as an industry in the way of innovation and be replaced with direct representation of the will and interests of the people. That does not exist in Contra Costa County or the San Francisco Bay Area.

We should expect BANG, EMCEB, Patch, and other broadcast, print and on-line media to drop their political allegiance and actually represent their readers in the news process and effecting innovation of our children's future.

Certainly new subscriber news services are providing on-line, immediate and interactive informational services focused on politics and economics in our area, region and corridors. More certainly, very-savvy professionals as the majority of our residents are such subscribers. But that must not excuse public media, including EMCEB, from being positive, balanced contributors to important consideration of issues and resolutions beyond political influence.

As a CDSI Research Fellowship courtesy

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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Jan 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I don’t usually agree with Tom as it seems we come from different ends of the political spectrum, but on this one, I TOTALLY AGREE. I grew up in So. Cal and have lived here the past 18 years. When I go and see my family down south, I would so prefer to get in my car, be able to stop along the way if I so choose and actually have my car down there to be able to get around. California, especially southern California does not have the infrastructure to support the high speed rail once you get there. The example of Europe's high speed rail being touted doesn't point out that many of the cities where it goes have the ingrained nature of using the tube, metro, etc. once you arrive in the city. All you have to do is look at how many people still CHOOSE their car over the Metrolink in LA and to a lesser extent the same with BART up here to see this idea will not take hold and is a complete waste of money.

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Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Dear Tom and editor.

We are asked to cling to the status quo simply as a political convenience to those without innovation or talent among our politicians to do anything better.

That is not resolution or service to the will and interest of our communities and neighborhoods.

SPEAK UP, Tom, it is only a matter of review and consideration.

CDSI Research Fellowship courtesy,

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

"But the rail numbers are likely to be static, as the technology is known; cars and jets are both certain to improve dramatically in that regard." Tom, if you seriously think that transportation of people in individual cars on pneumatic tires, or by airplanes which have to constantly maintain altitude while propelling themselves forward, can ever remotely approach the energy efficiency required to transport people in trains running on carefully graded steel tracks, you really, really need to go back and study basic physics again. Energy is money. It will **always** cost more to move people or object by air or on rubber tires than on trains, and that transportation will **always** create more pollution. Add to that the fact that trains can be electrified, and this run on energy from static sources like nuclear, hydroelectric, and other alternative energy sources - the technology of which is not "static" - and you get a glimmering of the idea that locking ourselves into current technology may not be the best idea after all.

Honestly - this is as close to a "no-brainer" as your ever likely to run across. Killing off all hope of creating a California transportation system which will use less fuel per passenger mile under current technology, and make a transition to even better and cleaner energy sources in the future impossible, is short sided in the extreme.

Are you sure you don't work for Chevron?

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Posted by Dick K
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 13, 2012 at 7:21 am

Tom is right on. We are wasting billions just to put in a system without new technology that no one will ride. It's the steam engine of bullet trains. Take a look at for an alternative that at least bears greater scrutiny.