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Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

One of the consequences of the 2010 General Elections was the election of RepubliCorp Governors in Ohio and Wisconsin who politically neutralized the success of sitting Democratic state administrations in landing $400m and $800m High Speed Rail funding by demonizing the High Speed projects that were funded.

What that means for Wisconsin seems likely to be cancellation of the project but its certainly worth pushing back (and see below for further).

Ohio was completing the final Design this year, so never committed to the Build funds, so while Kasich is handing ~8,000 jobs to another state, there's no immediate budget impact to hit him with. Indeed, given the new make-up of the state board that would have to approve taking the Build money, after demonizing the "Quickstart", Kasich couldn't take the money now if he wanted to.

So where next for Ohio High Speed Rail?

The Wisconsin Republican Rail Cancellation Boondoggle

Whether stakeholders pulling the string of Wisconsin Gov. Jobs Go Walkabout balk at handing that money back and taking $100m out of the state budget to boot, or whether the Governor sticks to his Modern No-Nothing guns and gets a black eye for the egregious fiscal irresponsibility, its a fight worth fighting.

That is, the cancellation of the Federal Funding for the Madison / Milwaukee rail corridor will cost Wisconsin cost $97.65m, versus the commitment to the start up rail subsidy of any amount required up to $7.5m/yr, which was the original promised state contribution to the project.

That promise of a $7.5m annual operating subsidy if required was the basis for the Republican charge that the rail corridor was a boondoggle. Yet canceling the project will cost enough for over three full Governors terms worth of that operating subsidy. And on the other hand, the actual need for the subsidy will drop over its first five years, as patronage is built on the new corridors ... and at the same time, speed upgrades to Milwaukee/Chicago anywhere in that dozen years would surely make allow the Madison / Milwaukee segment of the route to generate an operating surplus.

Why is it necessary to kill these projects?

And that is what these cancellations are about. It is not a high priority emergency for the Oil Lobby to kill these projects in their cradle because of a risk that they will fail to reach operating surpluses. Its a high priority emergency because of the much greater likelihood that they will succeed in reaching operating surpluses as they reach maximum speeds at or greater than Interstate Highway driving speeds, via raising the maximum corridor speed limits of 110mph and a combination of corridor and equipment that allows the train to be operating between 90mph and 110mph for the bulk of the trip.

What operating surpluses means is that advocates can push for operating surpluses to be dedicated to capital improvements of a state network. And then if there happens to be a source of Federal funds requiring a state match, banked operating surpluses can be offered for smaller grants, and revenue bonding can be used to generate state matches for larger grants.

And it is very hard for state legislators to say to constituents, "no, sorry, too expensive" when advocates can say, "oh, just make it self-funding".

Killing a transport system that generates operating surpluses and can provide the state/local matching funds to help finance its own extension and upgrade is something best done before those operating surpluses show up.

But, Wasn't the 3C Going to be a Permanently Subsidized Rail Corridor?

Ah, so what about the 3C Quickstart? Why did the State Legislature have to promise to provide up to $12m in operating surpluses over the next 20 years in order for the USDoT to give Ohio $400m to build the 3C Quickstart?

The Ohio Hub has always been planned in terms of a 79mph alternative and a 110mph alternative. And those speed are maximum speeds, not averages: a 79mph corridor can have a "transit speed" of 40mph~55mph, while a 110mph can achieve transit speeds of 60mph~80mph.

Population density is important for reaching operating surpluses. But not population density per mile: population density around the corridor stations, per hour travel time. So entirely independent of anything else, that speed upgrade to 110mph improves the demand for the service. And for cities too close together to have a large number of air passengers, "higher speed than driving" means that the service occupies the "high speed" segment of the market as well.

However, the flip side is capital cost. Broadly speaking, the infrastructure for a 110mph level HSR service can be divided into the track, signaling and level crossings required to operate passenger rail at 79mph, the additional track required to operate passenger rail at 110mph, the additional signaling for 80mph+, and the upgraded level crossings for 110mph+. And if you plan ahead, there is little extra cost in doing that by stages: for instance, if the new track required by the 79mph services are built at sufficient distance from the freight track, they will work perfectly well for the 110mph services.

So the idea of the "3C Quickstart" was to apply for enough money to build enough of the 110mph corridor to be able to run 79mph trains. Then over time, it was hoped that the state would be able to get Federal Funds with state matching funds to upgrade that corridor to 110mph. And once enough of it was upgraded, the schedule could be upgraded, additional services provided with the same number of trains, the system would hit operating break even, and attention could turn to the next stage of the Ohio Hub.

The Achilles Heel of the 3C Quickstart Strategy

Now, the Quickstart strategy was fine-tuned for the fact that $8b in no-match HSR money was in the offing. With the filling in of population in the middle of the 3C corridor since the Penn Central bankruptcy, which killed the prior passenger rail service, Ohio would be getting a quite substantial number of passenger-miles for less than the cost of its highway mowing budget.

And with $8b in the offing, Ohio could not hope to get the 3C corridor built as a 110mph corridor from the outset. That would cost between $1b and $1.5b, and 1/8th to 1/5th of the total national appropriation for a Rapid Rail level HSR corridor would be overly ambitious.

But opting for the "Quickstart" strategy opened the proposal up to partisan attack at the outset. The preliminary timetabling by Amtrak, had a transit speed of ~40mph ... widely publicized as 39mph to benefit from the "$3.99 magic number" effect ... and partisan opposition seized on that number to argue that it was a useless waste of money. Of course the final Design timetable has turned out to be substantially faster than that, at over 50mph ... but as unimpressive as 50mph+ sounds, that had very little hope of being heard over the din of a state gubernatorial election campaign.

Independent of the technical merits and demerits of the 3C Quickstart strategy, it has been successfully demonized, and a different line of attack will be required next time.

The 2C to 3C Strategy.

The 3C rail corridor is very much a corridor of two halves. As Drewski comments at The Transport Politic:

You don’t know much about the 3C corridor. The northern half of the 3C–Cleveland to Columbus–has great bones. It has good gradient, most freight traffic is on a parallel line to the west, and there’s strong traffic volume. If the 3C were funded for a first phase only between Cleveland and Columbus, the planned number of trainsets would’ve allowed for at least 7, maybe 9 or even 10 roundtrips per day. Also, remember that Cleveland-Hopkins is one of a very few American airports located on an existing rail corridor already identified for HSR potential. Adding a station at Crestline would’ve opened up connection to north central Ohio without wrecking the schedule.

The problem really lies with the alignment south of Dayton. The track is in poor condition, both the existing trackbed and the alignment. In honesty, this corridor might be better viewed as a strong conventional line, but true HSR might do better by using a largely abandoned r/w which runs southwest from Columbus, roughly parallel to I-71. Ultimately, at average speeds of 125-150 mph, the schedule from Cinci to Cleveland would allow for a 2-hour trip time or less.

Of course, there are two reasons this will only be a concept. One is that stopping the 3C at Columbus would be politically unacceptable to both southern Ohio and the state GOP (which is based in Cincinnati’s northern suburbs). The other is that incoming Gov. Kasich is hell-bent on killing this plan. Yet another example of Ohio becoming a shadow of its past.

Now, as far as bipartisanship, the Ohio State Republicans have pissed in that particular punch bowl. Any construction over the next ten years will start because the Ohio State Democratic party has gained the clout to push it through. So take that as the outset. And then remember why the Republicans had to be so creative in Gerrymandering Franklin Country (Columbus) and even then lost one and nearly two of their three gerrymanders in Democratic wave elections: swing Central Ohio and you swing the state.

A partisan advantage will be temporary unless it is parlayed into results. So we have to be ready to strike at any time. And the above should inform the planning ahead:

  • Give Columbus a 110mph rail service, to somewhere, no matter what else happens in Stage 1

That means Stage 1A of the Ohio Hub includes 110mph Cleveland/Columbus: strictly speaking, 79mph Cleveland Lakefront to Berea, then 110mph to Columbus.

What else? There are a package of "Stage 1B" improvements that can be spread through the state:

  • We will have a conventional rail corridor design for Dayton / Cincinnati, and with Cincinnati / Dayton at 1:36 or better on a three stop schedule, that is a 1:50 schedule even with additional stops. So a conventional rail corridor can be established with hourly service each way on the basis of basically two commuter trains and a spare.
  • Finalizing the preferred Youngstown alignment of Pittsburgh / Cleveland can put the Capital Corridor through Youngstown / Warren / Portage County / Summit County / Cleveland
  • Building the Toledo / Detroit link allows the Cleveland and Toledo to benefit from the ongoing upgrades to the Wolverine line in Michigan.

So, what good is that?

The State of Ohio (somehow) comes up with the operating subsidy to extend one Wolverine each way on the Erie Lakeshore to Pittsburgh, and to connect the Pennsylvanian through to Detroit. This gives one daytime and one evening connection to through Pittsburgh / Cleveland / Toledo / Detroit each way, with one running through to Chicago and one running through to New York.

The State of Ohio also needs to offer the required state subsidy to keep a Dayton/Cincinnati conventional passenger rail service operating. In formal transport terms, this conventional rail service is "independent utility" for a corridor developed looking ahead to linking up with the "2C" corridor. In political terms, this conventional rail service is a hostage: take away the Lakefront funding and lose the Cincinnati/Dayton commuter train.

And finally, the 110mph Cleveland / Columbus service. As the 110mph Cleveland/Columbus schedule from the Ohio Hub is 1:50, and the 110mph Cleveland / Youngstown is 1:17, I will assume that the 79mph Cleveland / Youngstown can operate in 1:50 as well. Then, with the three trains, the following seems possible (note that Youngstown / Warren / Portage County / Summit County also have one additional daytime, one additional evening and two late night connections to Cleveland per day each way via the Erie Lakeshore corridor):

  • Northbound
  • Columbus 6:50 / Cleveland 8:40
  • Columbus 9:20 / Cleveland 11:10
  • Columbus 10:50 / Cleveland 12:40
  • Columbus 11:50 / Cleveland 13:40
  • Columbus 13:50 / Cleveland 15:40
  • Columbus 15:50 / Cleveland 17:40 / Youngstown 19:30
  • Columbus 17:20 / Cleveland 19:10
  • Columbus 19:40 / Cleveland 21:20 / Youngstown 23:10 x
  • Columbus 21:20 / Cleveland 23:10 x
  • Southbound
  • Cleveland 6:50 / Columbus 8:40
  • Youngstown 6:50 / Cleveland 8:40 / Columbus 10:30
  • Cleveland 9:20 / Columbus 11:10
  • Cleveland 11:50 / Columbus 13:40
  • Cleveland 13:20 / Columbus 15:10
  • Cleveland 14:50 / Columbus 16:40
  • Cleveland 17:20 / Columbus 19:10
  • Cleveland 19:20 / Columbus 21:10
  • Youngstown 19:40 / Cleveland 21:20 / Columbus 23:10 x

This is only a notional schedule, and a detailed timetable for the Erie Lakeshore service would have to be determined to ensure convenient transfers with sufficient leeway for reliability ... but it gives an idea of the opportunity. Obviously if there are certain services in higher demand than others, Senior Citizen, Family, and Student discounted fares can be focused on the services that would otherwise have empty seats.

Cost? ... What Benefit do you want?

The Cost of each segment of the plan will go up with the pursuit of stronger benefit.

For example, the cost of the Cincinnati leg is heavily influence by the way that the corridor arrives in downtown. If it operates along the Boathouse alignment, slightly east of downtown along the waterfront, then extending the Streetcar out along to reach a Boathouse terminal station is cheaper than extending the heavy rail to terminate by the downtown transit terminal (which was deliberately designed to prevent use as a heavy rail station). If it operates along the Cincinnati Union Station alignment, then terminating north of the Cincinnati Union Station would be cheapest, perhaps by extending the Streetcar via the never-used Subway and operating as a Rapid Streetcar to reach the terminal. Terminating at Cincinnati Union Station, including works to avoid interfering with the heavy freight traffic in that section of the corridor would cost more, and extending from Cincinnati Union Station to terminate just west of the downtown transit terminal would be still more expensive.

I've already indicated my preference on that front: have Hamilton County vote on it, and do that. As far as the cost, the faster the access the closer to downtown, the better the patronage of the corridor, so capital investment up front will reduce the operating subsidy required.

For the northern Pittsburgh/Detroit corridor, the biggest bottleneck is the lack of a connection at all between Detroit and Toledo. Then improvements on the lightly used branch line connecting Youngstown to Cleveland to allow Cleveland/Youngstown service to mirror 110mph Cleveland/Columbus times. Then improvements between Cleveland and Toledo to improve reliability of both the daytime Erie Lakeshore and the overnight Capital Corridor service. Then upgrade of the Cleveland/Toledo section to 110mph. Then upgrade of the Cleveland/Youngstown corridor to 110mph. Then upgrade of the Youngstown/Pittsburgh corridor to 110mph.

Phasing of Stage One

110mph Cleveland to Columbus first. Then Toledo / Detroit. Then all that other stuff: at the same time if possible, in sequence if not.

This is, after all, about funding in a Ohio state administration four to eight years in the future, under an unknown White House, and unknown combination of Ohio Legislative and Congressional majorities and, therefore, unknown Federal HSR funding levels and unknown Federal/State matching fund splits.

But there are a number of things that are clear:

  • There will be at least one and possibly more 110mph Rapid Passenger Rail corridors operating somewhere on our side of the Appalachian Mountains before this comes into the frame ~ it won't be seen as "just for the East Coast" anymore
  • There will have been one and maybe more oil price shocks between now and then, since more oil price shocks are coming.

So assuming that the 2010 electoral victories spells long term postponement of HSR projects would be silly. Sometime down the track, there will be an opportunity, and Ohio progressives need to be beating the drum on "why do Republicans insist Ohio cannot have the good stuff other states have" so that campaigning on restoring the HSR program and providing "real faster-than-driving HSR" is the path of least resistance for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Stage Two: Connect to Cincinnati

With this system in place, then the incremental completion of the 3C corridor is straightforward. Sooner or later, the Cleveland/Columbus route will hit break-even, and to prepare for that day, the initial legislation that launches the project dedicates future operating surpluses to capital funding for completion of the 3C. If need be, that would include finishing the Cincinnati / Dayton conventional passenger rail corridor first.

Then the 110mph Columbus/Dayton link is completed. That enables the first full 3C services to run, albeit at conventional rail speeds between Dayton and Cincinnati, picking up the role of a Limited Flyer between Cincinnati and Dayton, supplemented by the conventional passenger services.

Stage Three: The Crystal Ball gets cloudy

Then where to next? From here, I would depart from the Ohio Hub script. I firmly believe by the time we get to the point of Stage Three ~ which is, after all, 2018 or later ~ there will already be momentum for a 220mph or faster HSR corridor between New York and Chicago. And the direct route for a 220mph HSR corridor or faster between Chicago and New York is the Fort Wayne alignment, then across the middle of Northern Ohio, then across Northern Pennsylvania on a general I-80 alignment to New York. Looking at that, and given State of Ohio and State of Pennsylvania balance of power politics, I would not be surprised if the 220mph corridor is pulled down from central PA to connect into Pittsburgh, then run along the old National alignment to Columbus, and then up to the Fort Wayne alignment.

With the routes already sketched above, a Toledo / Fort Wayne corridor would connect the Express HSR alignment to the Erie Lakeshore and to Detroit, while 110mph connection from midway along the Columbus / Dayton to Indianapolis would Connect Indianapolis into the Express HSR system via Rapid Rail HSR corridors to Chicago and Columbus.

But suppose that the Express HSR is actually through the center of northern Ohio? That implies a different alignment for the Ohio Hub Stage 3.

And supposed that the Express HSR is actually generally along an I-80 alignment all the way, so that it runs along the Lakeshore. That implies a different alignment for the Ohio Hub Stage 3 as well.

So given that, I'll worry about about Stage 3 if I should live so long.

Conclusions ...

Conclusions? Aint no ending here. We are not at the end. We are not at the beginning of the end. We are not even at the end of the beginning.

We have, in other words, just begun to fight.

Midnight Oil ~ Blue Sky Mining

If I yell out at night there's a reply of blue silence
The screen is no comfort I can't speak my sentence
They blew the lights at heaven's gate and I don't know why

But if I work all day on the blue sky mine
(There'll be food on the table tonight)
Still I walk up and down on the blue sky mine
(There'll be pay in your pocket tonight)

Originally posted to BruceMcF on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:16 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very informative! (11+ / 0-)

    Tipped and recced.

    Republicans are slumlording America!!

    by Fe Bongolan on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:23:12 PM PST

  •  amazing work as always (13+ / 0-)

      I am constantly amazed at the quality of analysis you just dump out here for fun :-)

  •  If you are from Ohio, can you tell me whether (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davelf2, wader, neroden

    Ohio is gaining a Congressional district according to the new census or is it losing or maintaining the same number?

    Don't give a damn a/t each & every politician currently alive in the US. Last time i voted for the top part of the ballot was 1972. Never missed SB election

    by Mutual Assured Destruction on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:28:05 PM PST

  •  C to B line? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, JanL, marykk

    how about Cleveland to Buffalo?

    The New Yorkers are going to grab Ohio's HSR money,
    so in a future round, there is more benefit in
    going to a Buffalo Leg,  at Least Cleveland can
    fetch business along the Empire Route.

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:29:07 PM PST

    •  That's in the stage three ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, neroden, sabishi

      ... in my more compressed staging, as in, "I don't know, I should live so long". In the original Ohio Hub map up there, its on the map as either stage 5 or stage 6.

      And that's about right: Syracuse / Rochester / Buffalo is exactly the kind of string of cities for 110mph to start and upgrade to 125mph ...

      ... but Buffalo to Cleveland is a bit of a stretch, at least at 110mph, and needs to have the traffic in both the Ohio Hub and the western leg of the Empire Corridor built up a bit to be sure of strong performance.

      At 220mph, its not a stretch in distance, but may be a stretch in terms of benefit ~ 220mph corridor cost quite a bit more, because they have to be designed from scratch for Express High Speed Rail and because they have to be completely grade separated ~ no level crossings at all, not even "hardened" level crossings ~ and that all costs money.

      And the Benefit of the corridor depends on how big a fraction of the transport market it will grab plus how big a total transport market it is. Buffalo to Cleveland might be a marginal corridor for Express HSR ... at least until the shit hits the fan as far as oil price shocks.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:28:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't forget (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Cleveland is a major RJ hub for delta

        If you had. Medium sped rail from the east you could swap those routes if t he train rolled into the airport as well.

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 05:21:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. Many thanks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, RiaD, Albatross, BruceMcF, yella dawg

    for the information I received from your research BruceMcF.

    We need to teach people that the environment has a direct bearing on our own benefit. Dalai Lama

    by maggiejean on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:29:15 PM PST

  •  Something no one is mentioning (13+ / 0-)

    is railroads are still unionized -- IMHO a big reason rethugs don't want rail expansion.  

  •  Great diary Bruce (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, JanL, RiaD, BruceMcF, divineorder, Railfan

    I've been enjoying your diaries on this for some time.  I did not have the cancellation cost earlier today when I did my diary on the Wisconsin-Walker fiasco.  People may find some of the links on the political story of interest.  There is a sort of timeline summary near the bottom of the diary for a quicker view of the last week developments.

    What are your thoughts on the 220 mph bullet train project Gov. Quinn wants to get started on for service between Chicago and St. Louis?

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 05:45:15 PM PST

    •  I like it ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Railfan

      ... the rail corridors they are linking up are classical nice flat straight Midwestern rail corridors.

      The 110mph Rapid Rail HSR (though there are some enthusiasts who get ticked off calling them "HSR" because they are not bullet trains) is primarily bringing people returning from one end and then starting to collect people heading to the other end ... its more filling in transport into either St Louis or Chicago for populations in the middle.

      And for those sized populations, the 110mph class of service is about right. Hopefully it can be upgraded to electric, maybe even 125mph, but its about right. Its a four hour route, when the sweet spot for train trips is one to two hours, extending out to three hours, so at the western end, as demand for Chicago trips tails off, demand for St Louis trips picks up, and the opposite at the northeastern end.

      Given the size of Chicago and St. Louis themselves, and the fact that 110mph leaves them outside the sweet spot, and 220mph would bring the travel time into that sweet spot, its quite reasonable to pursue that now that the Chicago / St. Louis 110mph corridor is under construction.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:36:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hope NM can keep the Repubs from shutting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, JanL, ColoTim, BruceMcF

    down the completed NMRailrunner!

    Many government jobs in Santa Fe cut so ridership could go down....  Gov Richardson has frozen hiring for rest of year for 'transistion.'

    Great diary!

  •  Hope Chicago to St. Louis is successful. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Dr Colossus, JanL, RiaD, ImagineOhio, BruceMcF

    That'll probably be THE midwestern project for awhile.

    I, for one, welcome our new hillbilly overlords.

    by Bush Bites on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:00:16 PM PST

    •  Sadly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I know I was hoping for a high speed line through wisconsin to chicago from st paul.

    •  If Snyder decides to go for ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... re-election in four years time over making the teabaggers happy, he'll tell the USDoT that Michigan still has the balance of their Rapid Rail HSR application in, and if Ohio's money went to Michigan, the Wolverine could be the second Midwestern / Great Lakes HSR corridor. Indeed, they could organize one of the Wolverines to run through to Saint Louis.

      Then Michigan would get the construction jobs, and when construction was finished, would get the substantially faster operations on the existing route, so their existing subsidies would go down ... or more likely, out completely.

      That would be my first preference, since it the work in the next four years that would improve the prospects for the Erie Lakeshore route, which connects to the Wolverine.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 06:24:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Because they do and can. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, BruceMcF

    why do Republicans insist Ohio cannot have the good stuff other states have


    Chris Christie for instance.

    What could I write ABJ? They don't care. They have newspapers to sell.

    Great diary. Thank you. It's filled with needed information. It even took a while to read. I have something to pass out to like minded souls.

    "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

    by JugOPunch on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:13:35 PM PST

  •  While I approve of HSR, I can't help (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, JanL, yella dawg, Rich in PA

    but feel that there needs to be more anger at the Republicans for delaying/canceling these kinds of infrastructures and more jealousy at states that are putting these in, along with the jobs and business improvements that should come along with them.  If the Dems save HSR from the Ohio governor, the Dems won't get credit, but if Ohio (I know, suffering already) starts to be bypassed by Illinois, for example, for companies moving there and they cite HSR as a reason, the lies of the Republicans about how they're best for business just get even more obvious.  Same goes for Texas with the threat they'd pull out of Medicare, and Wisconsin and New Jersey canceling massive transit projects.

    I think elections need to have consequences, unfortunate as that is for the Dems in the red states.  Here in Colorado, we lost two Dems in Congress, and a Teapartier and Tom Tancredo nearly won, and Colorado Springs is a poster child for Grover Norquist's vision of the drowned government.  I don't think we've driven into the ditch enough yet, and unfortunately I think the Dems are going to save the country in spite of itself.  

    No I don't like it, but that's my little rant.  Those places that want to be poor and backward with low taxes and no services - well, let them be that way.  Let them learn, and perhaps they may come back, perhaps they may kick out the Republicans and beg for the feds to save them from their local government.  

    •  Amen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, JanL, ColoTim

      Georgia used stimulus funds to pay teachers and state workers not create jobs.   The rethugs got reelected while still talking tax cuts.  Red states need to suffer the consequences of those they elect.  We've had state plans for two rail corridors forever but our rethug Gov  didn't even apply last year for this.

    •  It'll always be hard to be jealous about ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, JanL, ColoTim

      ... what someone else is going to get in the future, when the political partisans do their best to make it seem like getting modern transport technology is some kind of massive political issue.

      But it won't stay in the future forever, and when other states have it, that's when the jealousy can be built up.

      As the line in Serenity goes, "Do you know what your sin is, Mal?" / "Ah, Hell ... I'm a fan of all seven." But the one that'll kick in when other states start having the stuff we were given and handed back will be Envy.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:43:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Democrats can't do anything in Ohio (8+ / 0-)

      Republicans now have a 100 percent stranglehold on everything — all statewide offices, both houses of the legislature by large majorities, and virtually the entire state Supreme Court (the one bright spot is that because the court convenes before the new governor is sworn in, our current governor can nominate a single Democrat out of seven seats). We don't have the power to stop them. They can enact Kasich's entire agenda — continue to phase in tax cuts, eliminate all social services and starve the public schools to pay for them, fire half of government workers, skyrocket the University tuitions that Gov. Strickland kept a lid on — basically gut the state.

      The only positive news I have heard is that legislative Republicans are panicking, afraid that the Kasich agenda will whiplash their gains and turn the House Democratic again in 2012. Oh well. And the state is already so gerrymandered there's no much more damage they can do.

  •  I enjoyed this diary a lot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I admire the effort and expertise that went into it.  As a HSR skeptic, I have to tell you that I get tripped up on this:

    Its a high priority emergency because of the much greater likelihood that they will succeed in reaching operating surpluses

    On what basis would that happen?  When I drive from Pittsburgh to Columbus and then to Cleveland or Cincinnati, it's crowded around the cities themselves but it doesn't seem especially crowded in between.  I am just not getting much of a sense that there is a market for a new and improved way of getting between those cities or any combination thereof.  Especially since their urban/suburban public transportation is so modest, it's not clear that people who travel between, say, Columbus and Cleveland would ditch the car for even a fast and comfy train unless they're traveling between urban cores rather than, say, Mentor to Reynoldsburg.  

    The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

    by Rich in PA on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:29:46 PM PST

    •  The demand exists ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, NoMoreLies, JanL

      ... given the capital cost and operating cost of a 110mph Rapid Rail HSR train, 1% of the long distance transport demand on the 3C corridor is enough patronage for a train to break even ... at 2%, it can generate an operating surplus in the $10m's.

      The Express HSR corridors cost a whole lot more, and while they can grab a substantially larger share of transport markets, and the compression of population density per hour of travel allows them to generate operating surpluses in a wide range of circumstances ... justifying their capital subsidy tends to larger transport markets, and is easiest when there are large transport markets with congestion on existing transport routes. Since an Express HSR system is often less expensive than an equal amount of capacity by road or air, if new construction is required, its often a cost efficient way to provide that new capacity.

      Since the 110mph is compatible with traditional rail alignments, corridors do not have to be acquired. Since upgraded speed-sensing quad gate level crossings can be used on 110mph corridors, while 220mph corridors need full grade separation, it is much less expensive to cope with existing road/rail intersections. Since 110mph is compatible with external signaling once upgraded with Positive Train Control, the signal upgrade is much less expensive.

      The 1/4th to 1/10th the cost per corridor mile means that a Rapid Rail HSR corridor capital subsidy does not need the level of transport benefit that the Express HSR needs to justify the project.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 06:53:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Um, well, exactly, Rich. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      With the cities crowded and the space in between abandoned, it makes for a pretty good express rail corridor.  It's not crowded in Mentor!  That means there's nobody in Mentor any more!  They're in Cleveland!

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 10:22:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I knew that would come out the wrong way :) (0+ / 0-)

        I mean that we're likely overestimating the actual passenger market between the two cities because we're hung up on how crowded it is when you get closer-in.  Very little of that is intercity traffic--if you want to know what the intercity traffic is, go to the midpoint and count.  That's you HSR market, at best.

        The Mentor vs. Cleveland point is separate from the first one; if Mentor is losing people while the urban core is gaining, it's news to me.

        The most impressive thing about man [...] is the fact that he has invented the concept of that which does not exist--Glenn Gould

        by Rich in PA on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 04:10:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think 1% of the total long distance ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, sabishi

          ... transport market in the corridor, rising to 2% as the patronage matures, is an overestimate ... I just don't.

          Look at that from conventional Amtrak style services and look up.

          On the patronage side, as Illinois and California has shown, increase the frequency and reliability of the Amtrak speed services, and patronage increases. Its just not true that the skeleton service picks up all the people who would prefer to ride a train even at speeds slower than driving: there are still people who would rather use that time some other way, but are forced to drive because the train runs at the same time or the train has too high a risk of not leaving or arriving on time.

          The investments for the 110mph systems increase speed and increase reliability ~ the need to decrease the mixing with freight traffic because of the much wider speed mismatch means there is less mixing with freight traffic, which is the source of the majority of delays.

          So patronage will go up for greater reliability and greater speed.

          And on the cost side, costs are a mix of per mile and per hour costs, and so the average cost per passenger mile is lower for the 110mph services than for the 79mph passenger services.

          High patronage, lower cost, means the highest demand services run an operating surplus. And means that more services hit break-even, so you run a more frequent schedule, 4-8 trains per day. Then greater frequency means the train is competing for more trips in the total long distance transport market.

          So that before, the train could feasibly serve 5% of trips, and 5% of those people saw the balance of speed, reliability and convenience of the train as superior to driving, flying, etc. That is 5%*5* = 0.25% of the total transport market.

          Now say that you have changed the system so its feasible for 20% of trips to be made by train, and the combination of speed, reliability and convenience of the train wins 10% of those trips. That is 20%*10% = 2% of the total transport market.

          At 2% of the total 3C transport market, you are looking at a total Benefit/Cost ratio well over 100%, break-even sometime in the first five years of patronage build-up, and then operating surpluses in the $10m's of dollars.

          So, given the initial capital subsidy, from that point on its a self-funding insurance program against oil price shocks and Peak Oil.

          End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

          by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 06:37:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I could work in Cincy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Columbus, Dayton and live in any three of those with a reasonable commute where I didn't have to drive.

      So could a bunch of other people.

      I could shop in cincy, columbus, or dayton without fighting construction traffic, gawking at traffic accidents, or getting my mom-mobile the way of the huge number of trucks that dominate the highways.

      Truckers on the roads between cincy, dayton, and columbus wouldn't have to deal with mom-mobiles making road trips and failing to use their turn signals.

      I 'ship Obama/America. OTP

      by athenap on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 08:21:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It would be better to fund (0+ / 0-)

    the metropolitan area bus systems.

    •  The 3C would fund city buses. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The main bottleneck for buses is not capital subsidies, its operating subsidies. Too many of the benefits of buses are external benefits, and if the buses have to rely on farebox alone, that free ride by all the other beneficiaries often would result in no service at all where the total benefit is well above the total cost.

      Similar for driving for local transport, but cars are much more successful at hiding all of their massive subsidies: the cost of local policing of traffic, parking and auto theft, the cost of "free parking" provided by zoning mandates, the cost of larger emergency rooms to handle the accidents caused by people trying to do too many other things and drive as well, etc.

      So anything that (1) does not compete for operating subsidies and (2) generates more farebox revenue for the buses is good for the buses.

      The HSR does not compete for operating subsidies with local transport, because if you start with the strongest corridors out, you can be sure of only building the HSR that will generate operating surpluses.

      HSR has a stronger market share for central city destinations/origins, because that is where the hassle of driving is the greatest, and some fraction of that patronage will use local transport. At origins, that will generate local transport trips.

      Indeed, that also helps suburban bus systems. Suburban bus routes often suffer from unbalanced passenger load, where people along a route tend to all be wanting to go in one direction and then return from that direction, so the load factor at the end of the trip is very week. If instead of dangling in the middle of nowhere, the end of that route is at a traffic drive, its possible to get more balanced patronage along the route, higher load share, and better farebox recovery ratios.

      The suburban HSR station offers one more of those patronage anchors, and more opportunity to string more suburban bus routes between two patronage anchors.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 06:50:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about subsidizing existing (0+ / 0-)

    Amtrak service to build up the ridership?

    How about expanding the number of runs?

    For many people getting there comfortably and cheap is good enough.

    •  What existing Amtrak service? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, BruceMcF, sabishi

      Ohio has two midnight services a day (each way) which stop in Cleveland and Toledo on the way from the East Coast to Chicago, and one midnight service three times a week (each way) which stops in Cincinnati on the way from the East Coast to Chicago.

      These are simply the wrong corridors for a "startup corridor overlay" service.  The 3C "quickstart" was specifically to create an Amtrak service on a more appropriate corridor.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 10:24:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, but not for enough people to generate ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... an operating surplus. And that is key to allowing the intercity train routes to avoid getting hit by short term political games like the ones killing the 3C Quickstart and likely postponing the Milwaukee/Madison for four or more years.

      The "permanent subsidy until upgraded" of the initial "Quickstart" phase of the 3C Quickstart strategy is one of the main things they used to kill it. The fact that lots of people would use it, even if a majority of total travelers in the corridor, and all people traveling on the corridor would benefit from the people who did take the Quickstart instead, does not change the fact that a majority would not use it, and if everyone votes, "will I use it", instead of, "will I benefit", it goes down to defeat.

      As you increase the total number of trips, you increase the footprint of people who would use it sometimes ~ maybe only once a year for the away Browns / Bengals game, but sometimes ~ because it becomes possible to use it for a wider variety of trips. The regular riders might still be a smaller share of the population, until gasoline hits $8/gallon, but a lot more people can see the direct use of the thing.

      Plus what neroden says ~ Ohio only has Amtrak service between 8am and 12midnight if one of the two services each night at Cleveland through Toledo or one service one way most nights at Cincinnati is massively delayed. And that's kind of hard to plan in advance for. Columbus, Dayton, and Youngstown don't even have night train service. The Cincinnati train goes through Oxford, home of Miami University, but doesn't stop: south of the Alliance to Erie Lakeshore alignment, Cincinnati is the only Amtrak stop for the rest of the state.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 07:02:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm so pissed this is on the chopping block.

    Never, never, never give up. -Winston Churchill

    by CayceP on Tue Nov 09, 2010 at 07:56:05 PM PST

    •  I knew this was on the chopping block if ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, anastasia p

      ... Kasich won, which is why I was phonebanking for Strickland. And I knew it was a 1 in 5 shot of winning at best, given the horrible real unemployment rate in the state ~ sitting governors rarely survive that kind of unemployment, especially when the opponent has unlimited buckets of money to run ads to make the Governor the scapegoat for the unemployment.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 07:04:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the great diary, and clip... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been to Wittenoom, and kicked the dust in a very lonely town. It's a beautiful place, but still has the deadly daemon lying around.

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 06:44:29 AM PST

  •  Thanks Bruce (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is good information.  Your argument that a Cleveland-Columbus route is more viable at present than the Dayton-Cincinnati route is something I wasn't aware of.  This could be a fallback strategy to getting HSR off the ground, but the political problem, as Drewski pointed out, is that nothing gets done in Ohio unless there are actors from all 3 C's on board.  Leaving Cincinnati out of the first phase is problematic.  Nonetheless, HSR is worth fighting for; our challenge is getting people to see the long run picture.

    I love the link to Midnight Oil.  One of my favorite bands!

    "Do I have any regrets about the hard votes I took?" No. Not at all...and I never will. --Mary Jo Kilroy

    by Kurt from CMH on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 07:01:35 AM PST

    •  Look at the cities getting additional rail ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... service from Stage 1: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, Youngstown.

      Some get 110mph service, some get improved long distance conventional rail service, some get hourly commuter rail service, but they all get something.

      End 2010 with Lesbian Creative Works from ALC Publishing on your Holiday list.

      by BruceMcF on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 07:11:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Video (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for the Midnight Oil video! The lyrics of that song were about asbestos miners who died of occupational diseases. I was never really the biggest fan of their other songs, but I think "Blue Sky Mine" is one of the more meaningful songs I have ever heard.

    Where are all the jobs, Boenher?

    by Dirtandiron on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 01:05:10 PM PST

  •  Thanks tippped and rec'ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Dirtandiron

    Tax cuts create votes not jobs.

    by OHknighty on Wed Nov 10, 2010 at 04:34:04 PM PST

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