Obama Stimulus; HSR in UK Advances; BART Expansion Passes; LA Orange Line to Become LRT?

Biggest news of the weekend is Barack Obama’s new economic stimulus plan, which proposes creating 2.5 million jobs in infrastructure and alternative energy solutions. Though the specifics have not yet been worked out, the plan would, in the current plan, be passed almost as soon as he entered office – he would hand it over to Congress before he moved into the White House. Look for the bill to be in the $300 billion range, and look for it to provide specific funds for mass transit – and perhaps high-speed rail.

Meanwhile, the plans for high-speed rail links in the United Kingdom continue to advance. A new line would run from London, through Glasgow, to Edinburgh, decreasing total travel time from 4h30 today to 2h15. The total cost of the project would run up to 31 billion pounds, a not-insignificant sum, especially considering that Conservative leaders are plotting another plan for a high-speed rail line from London to Manchester and Birmingham.

In California’s Santa Clara County, the BART extension plan has passed, now with 66.78% approval rating, “well” above the 66.67% needed to pass. This extension, though it would be paid for by a 1/2 cent sales tax in the county, would require additional federal funding for it actually to be built.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, there is an increasing push to convert the very-popular Orange Line busway to light rail operations. This would save about 15 minutes of travel time, but one wonders whether the city would continue to invest when there are so many other corridors in the County that also need significant improvements in transit service.

2 Comments | Leave a Reply »
  • Nathanael Nerode

    The Orange Line was supposed to be light rail all along. It was an existing rail ROW, formerly a streetcar line, and was orignally planned for light rail

    The reason it isn’t is a long comedy of Los Angeles politics: various politicians seeking different things passed overlapping ordinances which, put together, prohibited any sort of a rail line except a subway (from pro-subway politicians) *and* prohibited a subway (from anti-subway politicians). So they built the bus.

    There seems to be some movement towards repealing the goofy pile of ordinances and getting back to the original plan. It would save a lot of money in the long run. The only *practical* problem is, it needs a new LRV stabling facility, since it’s not connected to the Green, Gold, or Blue lines. This shouldn’t be that hard though.

  • Nathanael Nerode

    Incidentally, the person quoted in that article who thinks rail is louder than buses is a complete goofball; electric rail is, of course, quieter.

    Yaroslavsky is known as a busway promoter, so he’s unlikely to do anything unless pushed hard. The Orange Line is actually proving his busway fantasies to be fantasies, so he might eventually give in. The explosive demand is going to force that route to change to rail sooner or later — politics is the sole determinant of when.

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