I wanted to start us off with a song today. It’s not our usual format for the L Studio blog, but since I was recently introduced to this 1984 masterpiece and have been listening to it on repeat, it seemed apropos to share it along with these news items about the state of California transit projects. Robyn Hitchcock might have voted for the California High-Speed Rail Bond, don’t you think?

The truth is that the issues behind actually building transit lines (as opposed to just dreaming them) get really complicated. No solution will be perfect, but the benefit of having a richer transit mix might be worth the cost. Of course, I say that from the perspective of a San Francisco renter, not from the perspective of the woman in the QUEST story whose home lies in the path of the bullet train and could well have her property seized through eminent domain.

At the same time, I’m thankful for the perspective offered by one reader’s comment to the story about the woes of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit Authority. Why should new freeway construction be uncontroversial when train funding is subject to popular vote? The point is that we have to start somewhere. Our state is growing and our climate is changing. Decisions that hamper or halt rail transit projects will not keep these realities from taking place. We can either ride the train or let it pass us by as we sit in traffic.

North Bay Line Runs Into Snags

By Stu Woo, The Wall Street Journal February 17, 2011

When a passenger rail line was proposed for the North Bay more than a decade ago, local leaders envisioned a link that would whisk the region’s commuters from the northern fringes of Sonoma County to Marin’s Larkspur ferry terminal 70 miles to the south. Today, the project’s scope has been cut in half, and officials say there isn’t enough money to fund even the truncated line.

I found this comment from Garlynn Woodsong to be very astute. Doesn’t it often seem that the real point lies in what what is left out of the news stories and popular political narrative?

“Taxpayers are already on the hook for a $600 million project to widen the freeway in this same corridor — yet that project did not have to pass a 2/3 vote requirement to receive its funding package, $300 million of which has already been lined up. Why not stall the freeway-widening project, and shift those funds over to allow the entire SMART project to be built by 2014? After all, drivers already have the existing freeway, which works just fine and could be made to work better if market pricing were introduced — but train riders currently have NO options in this corridor.”

A Bumpy Ride for High Speed Rail

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