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McNerney introduces bill for Altamont Corridor Rail Project

Original post made on Apr 16, 2011

Congressman Jerry McNerney (D., Pleasanton) today introduced legislation to help fund the Altamont Corridor Rail Project, which will expand rail services between the Central Valley and the Bay Area.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 15, 2011, 3:02 PM

Comments (13)

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Posted by Chet
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 16, 2011 at 10:59 am

We can always count on our fine Congressman Jerry McNerney to be
hard at work on issues very important to our district. Jerry fully
understands how improving our transportation is so very important
to all of us in District 11. Thank you Jerry!!!


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm


Way to go, Jerry. Let's fix the economy by spending more! Works for me!

How about gov't funded bankruptcy stimulus. That'd be a big help for me and my neighbors.

unclehomerr..


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Posted by Longtime resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

What do you like or approve of Unclehomerr....you seem very unhappy ALL the time about EVERYTHING?!


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Posted by Livermore guy
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 17, 2011 at 11:34 am

This is the kind of thing these electeds should be doing all the time, bringing home the bacon. If anyone tells you its bad, they don't know that's the whole point. No matter whats going on at the Federal level, it's always a drama or a show and will never be normal adults getting things done. So lets get what we can and fix what we have locally so we can at least have a better quality of life while we watch the show.

The Altamont Rail project is a must for our future, doesn't seem like much now but it has a lot of potential.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm


Two and a half million state workers and we can't fill the potholes??

Yeah.. everything's fine!

unclehomerr..


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Posted by nancy
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm

He still dosen't get it. WE OUR BROKE AS A NATION. Why dosen't he find a way to save or balance the budget, NO HE WANTS TO SPEND MORE, WE DON'T NEED A RAILROAD. WE NEED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. GET WITH IT jerry.


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Posted by Robert Heeter
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm

If the Bay Area cities had sensible development policies, there would be a better balance between housing and jobs in the inner Bay Area. There would be no need for folks to get up 2-3 hours early in the Central Valley to catch 85-mile train rides to jobs in the Bay Area. There would be a lot less freeway congestion.

Instead, we have tax and other policies which encourage cities to support businesses and neglect housing development. As a result there are far too many jobs and far too few residents in San Jose, Fremont, San Francisco, Oakland, etc. So people have to commute from 50-100 miles away. And the freeways are congested as a result, even though they have 5-6 lanes each way. And then the cost of maintaining the freeways is huge. And the air pollution from all the commuting is huge.

This was ridiculous enough when gasoline is only $2/gallon... now it is outrageous!

Why are we making people travel so far just to get to work each day?


Rail construction _within California_ should not be a Federal budget issue. ACE should get its hands out of my pockets. Jerry McNerney should use his political pull to encourage better development policies, not budget boondoggles.

The numbers given in the article do not support a $450,000,000 outlay, given the alternative choices and the current Federal budget situation. ACE runs only 3 trains per day. How many riders are there? The ACE website doesn't show their ridership -- although this is a publicly funded transit agency!

The article says "potential to carry 35,000 people", but that is clearly not a daily total... not now. Why should taxpayers cough up nearly $13,000 per "potential person" on this project? Anyone who reads a press release can infer that "potential" is short for "the inflated and unaudited estimate of an interested party". Where is the rigorous and independent cost-benefit analysis?

So, at $450,000,000 in federal outlays, and current Treasury rates, taxpayers will be paying $13,000,000 EVERY YEAR for this project. Are the "35,000 potential people" going to be paying this? How long will it take ACE to earn enough to repay the cost of construction? Will ACE even turn a profit after this outlay without public subsidies?

Last time I checked, Uncle Sam had obligations totalling betwenn $8,000,000,000,000 and $15,000,000,000,000 (depending on how you account for the nonexistent Social Security Trust Fund), and no prospect of paying any of it off before my grandkids die. So why is this rail project actually an intelligent investment? The only justification for borrowing more for this is if it will actually PAY FOR ITSELF. There's no argument in the article to support that notion. One can assume that if the project would pay for itself, the proponents would gladly tell us so at every opportunity. So it seems unlikely.

Just as it is often cheaper and more profitable for PG&E to encourage intelligent energy usage ("conservation") than to build more power plants, it can also be far cheaper and more profitable (for society) for government to encourage sensible housing and transportation usage. Rather than subsidizing 85-mile commutes at taxpayer expense, we should modify tax and other policies to encourage housing construction where the jobs are, and to encourage business formation where the housing is.

Make commutes shorter and cheaper, not longer and more expensive!


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Posted by Robert Heeter
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Update: ACE served 2500 riders per day in 2005, according to this site: Web Link

According to the same site, average passenger trip was 48 miles.

ACE appears to still be partly taxpayer-supported via various sales taxes.

If we make a more conservative estimate of 10,000 potential daily riders after the ACE upgrade (4 times as many trains), that's still a cost of $45,000 per rider... seems rather steep! ACE needs to run an operating profit of roughly $2000 PER RIDER PER YEAR to have even a hope of amortizing that cost. Seems unlikely!

The Fare Price Table (which isn't quite linked from the acerail.com site, but which you can find if you fix the link they give you) shows a maximum monthly fare of $300/rider (Stockton to San Jose). But the average rider only rides 48 of the 85 miles, and pays more like $200/month. That's only $2400/year in revenue per passenger.

There's no way ACE is going to make an annual operating profit of $2000/rider on revenue of only $2400/rider!

They'll never earn enough to pay off this debt.

(Note: even if you assume the full "potential" ridership of 35,000 daily riders, ACE needs a per-passenger annual operating profit of roughly $500 per rider per year. That's not going to happen at these fares, either. And raising the fares will lower the ridership.

I think there are better ways to improve quality of life and commuting in the Bay Area!


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Posted by Tennessee Jed
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Apr 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

Thank you Robert for that astute analysis of the cost associated with the operation of the transit upgrade. The fact is, most all transit systems are heavily subsidized by government and they all operate at a loss. If Jerry thinks this is what we need, then he is a bigger dolt than I always thought he was.

Here's an idea Jerry, if you think this is so necessary, then you and your buddies raise the money and build it yourselves, and operated it as a private business. I have no problem that.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Why is there a train station located at I680 and Hwy84 interchange? Maybe so the neighboring cows can catch a train ride down to the grass that was planted by Caltrans on the Washington Blvd curve (which by the way is now overgrown with weeds).

They can spend 200,000,000 dollars on a toll lane that nobody wants. 180,000,000 dollars to screw up Niles Canyon. 450,000,000 dollars on a train that serves few people and will disrupt huge stretches of open space. But they cannot fund a extra lane for the Sunol northbound section of I680 that has been needed for decades.

One of McNerney's congressmen friends on the peninsula said that this was a fool's errand. I would like to vote for this fellow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Why is there a train station located at I680 and Hwy84 interchange? Maybe so the neighboring cows can catch a train ride down to the grass that was planted by Caltrans on the Washington Blvd curve (which by the way is now overgrown with weeds).

They can spend 200,000,000 dollars on a toll lane that nobody wants. 180,000,000 dollars to screw up Niles Canyon. 450,000,000 dollars on a train that serves few people and will disrupt huge stretches of open space. But they cannot fund a extra lane for the Sunol northbound section of I680 that has been needed for decades.

One of McNerney's congressmen friends on the peninsula said that this was a fool's errand. I would like to vote for this fellow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2011 at 9:18 am

PORK PORK PORK


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Posted by Kemo Sabe
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Apr 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

We have a great examples of government involvement in the train business. AMTRAK, started in 1971 and has not made ONE PENNY of profit since its inception. Hmmmm, what kind of shape is the USPS in these days?


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