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September 17, 2015


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If John McCain were to devote his energies to rail , he would get nothing in return. Thus, he and his girlfriend graham devote all their efforts towards war and the blood money pours in. Simple economics.

A train trip to Tucson must be one hour. Otherwise, fuggetaboutit.

I would like to see this expanded to discuss the actual demand for the travel to between Phoenix and Tucson. A strong case was made for this back in the early 1960's when it was believed by many that the two cities would grow together, certainly by now. The case was being made for good intercity train travel but it got overshadowed by airlines and the demand just did not seem to take place.
You would be the ideal sounding board for this exercise but I do think the need (sort of like between Vancouver and Portland) or demand needs to be explored.

Needs to go to Nogales, Tambien.

I took the train to Seattle a few months ago and the trip was immeasurably more pleasant that driving up I-5. Washington's towns and cities, by the way, appear much nicer from the rail line than they do the freeways, and the refurbished King Station in Seattle is spectacular. Portland has renovation plans for its beautiful old station, too. Inside, it has a midcentury feel, from the concessionaires and personnel to the large and relatively crowded waiting room. It helps that the train station is located next to light rail, while the streetcars are a fairly short walk away. But best of all, the stations in Portland and Seattle are in functional downtowns, so there isn't that lost-in-space feeling you get in downtown Phoenix. Maybe extending Phoenix's light rail to Union Station will repair this gap and I hope to live long enough to see this happen.

The Republican war on trains is based on the instinctive perception that rail increases density - or its possibility - while freeways do the opposite. Forcing people to drive reduces the felt sense of interdependence which is essential to good government and healthy cities. Demographic maps bear this out, particularly in terms of race. Mostly white suburbanites drive and vote Republican. What attitude do their enclaves project? I've got mine. Suburbanites tend to show a kind of reflexive antagonism to government apart from keeping their roads in good repair and their zoning exclusionary.

Portland just opened up another light-rail line last week. The suburb it terminates in originally fought against the line but is now happy it has it. Light rail has been shown to significantly increase property values in the areas it passes through. As part of this new light-rail line, Portland built the largest bridge in North America dedicated to transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and it's a beauty.

Portland's has, like Seattle, terrible traffic congestion and even here people seem to think that more freeways and wider roads are needed. While both cities are growing, particularly in their cores, widening surface streets will be next to impossible. Freeway widening might happen on the fringes but the old main lines are pretty much fixed.

Portland for all its great transit investments is still primarily a car town. Most citizens prefer to drive and many are angry that population growth is making it harder to do that and much harder to park. There's anger about newbies moving here, particularly from California. When Tom McCall, a Republican visionary, was governor back in the 1970s, it showed up in the bumper sticker Don't Californicate Oregon. The irony is that people want a strong economy without the growth that follows in its wake. I think it's okay to be a Luddite but it helps to be internally consistent about it and not drive.

If there's a future worth having, it's going to mean more people traveling by transit and rail. Portland, particularly, shows how wonderful a city can be that emphasizes a quality of life defined more by transit options than the drive-everywhere paradigm of the suburbs. When friends from Phoenix visit, they see the advantages of higher density, walkability, and a city that looks loved in its particulars. The best places are those that that visually manifest this love and the human need for connection and intimate spaces. If you have to drive there to find it, you've already taken the wrong road.

Soleri U pegged my Republicanism. I'm opposed to high density near me. And I give U my guys Raymond Dart, Robert Ardrey and Thomas Malthus as to why. Think Population. And the ASU study of the more rats in the box the more violence. I'm am in favor of more rail and more density in Seattle and Portland and NY as long as the desert is emptied of those who prefer living on top of each other in piles of steel and concrete. My U find the ability to domesticate the large rats that also favor these places. I prefer my rats to be their relatives, Javelinas.

Downtown Phoenix will never become much of a walkable city. But if we can save the Union Station I would like to have a upstairs PI office in the bldg.

I know there is a need for a train from Phoenix to Tucson. The traffic along this section of I-10 is awful. However, I would much prefer a true high speed line between Phoenix and L.A.

Another line that connects Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas would be tremendously valuable. The trains would alleviate congestion to destinations where people would appreciate not having to drive after an ... intoxicating weekend. Let's invest in some 300mph machines.

Cal, I've been arguing this point since the first Earth Day back in 1970, which suggests I haven't been making much progress. If you can keep the hairless apes restricted to certain habitats, it means a much lighter footprint on the planet along with more habitat for other species. But what characterizes human beings most is our xenophobia and greed. What one wants for oneself collectively spells disaster for the planet. I'm glad you love those javelinas but I'm not so sure they love you.

I don't want to beat my head against this evolutionary wall. We are who we due to the inescapable logic of our DNA. We instinctively distrust "others" and need cars to maintain a safe distance, along with lots of guns, big houses, security systems, and a political system that caters to these fear-based fantasies. I watched the "debate" Wednesday night in which putative adults beat their chests in displays of alpha-chimp fury. I wanted to cry knowing that at least our population cannot figure out that cooperation is not simply a nice liberal idea but an absolute necessity. Republicans may be insane but they know, like you feel, that people want lots of space, which means lots of freeways, lots of driving, and a lot fewer javelinas. Climate-change denialism is closely interwoven with the instinct that we come first even if it ends up killing us.

If we can speak honestly about who we are as primates at the head of a vast food chain, we might begin to repair some of the damage we've created. But, it's not a topic many people are comfortable talking about. Instead, there's a kind of proud ignorance in which people simply deny the connections that are too finely woven to see. We live obliviously and dangerously on a conceit that is destroying the very fabric that sustains us. And we don't have much time to wake up.

The higher the mph the higher the cost.

150 mph Phx to Tucson

300 mph Phx to LA

200 mph Phx to LV (due to terrain)

Phx to Flag not feasible

The road from Nogales to all points North is filled with vans full of people. Why not a passenger train? Those same tracks currently bring tons if food to the U.S.

Portland's light rail system has a $1.3 billion dollar unfunded pension obligation and it has arranged for at least $2 billion dollars in tax subsidies to assist with commercial development around it:

INPHX is opposed to rail. Quelle surprise!


Not opposed to rail at all; but I admit I'm not a big fan of cheerleading (for rail or anything else).

I think you have to look at the whole picture. Costs matter.

Just price it.

We've got way too many financial problems being kicked down the road.

Where's the billion in pension liabilities going to come from? Does the 2 billion in subsidies to spur development bother anyone? Was that part of the deal? Does that make anyone think that maybe the light rail on its own really might not spur development?

I really liked that article. A guy from Austin takes a critical look at the Portland system to see if that might work in Austin.

I'm not an accountant but I'm guessing if you fund this through the pentagon, say take 1/3 of the cost of the F 35, $500,000,000,000 and build high speed rail all over the place. Ta Da ! Pension obligation? We don't need no pension obligation.


The Pentagon budget, the F35, and the military spending in this country are completely out of control. Just like the VA, Medicare. Social Security, and all the others.

See- that's the problem. Light rail? Sure- we need better transportation. More for defense? Of course- the bad guys are coming. And the EPA needs more funding, cause we're all about to choke to death. On and on and on...

Pigs at the trough. And not nearly enough political will to collect the taxes to fund it all.

So, everything is mispriced. Subsidies and tax loopholes galore. Federal and state budget deficits at numbers that my calculator won't read. And those generally exclude all of the unfunded healthcare and retirement benefits to be paid.

You know, one thing I applauded about Obamacare is there was at least an attempt to try to pay for it.

I am a Republican. I have been a member of the Arizona Rail Passenger Association since 1984 and currently serve as its president.

A Republican, Skip Rimzsa, was mayor when Phoenix passed Transit 2000--the original initiative to fund light rail.

A Republican, Jan Brewer, was governor when ADOT initiated its study of Phoenix-Tucson rail service.

One can't write nice things about Arizona when Jon Talton is in charge.

A train to Flagstaff can certainly be built. I imagine it would roughly follow I-17 but would have to vear further off course due to terrain. Just as in Europe, some mountainous terrain would require spectacular bridge work.

Now Robert,
Jon does write nice things about Arizona but he also writes some not so nice things about some Arizonans.

Can U arrange for me to have an office in the upstairs NE corner of Union Station?

We had passenger service to Flagstaff until 1968. It was on the Santa Fe to Williams Jct., where you could transfer to one of many mainline Santa Fe passenger trains. All the rails are still there. No need to reinvent the wheel.

What is mispriced in America are cars and their infrastructure, which are heavily subsidized with sales taxes, environmental externalities, much higher insurance costs, and public safety expenditures (since police and firefighters spend a disproportionate amount of their time responding to accidents). In Portland, using mass transit saves significant public resources that would go to expanding roadways along with the higher costs in servicing traffic accidents and traffic gridlock. Or did you think freeways and major arterials pay for themselves through the tax-cut fairy? I bet Jeb Bush thinks so.

Every first-world nation except ours spends significant public resources on rail with the happy result of people not spending their lives sitting in traffic or living in cities that look like Mesa. You might think the world is crazy until you spend time in America's few world-class cities like New York City, San Francisco, Boston, or Chicago. Portland gets tourists from around the world, which is major economic boon for the city and region. How many world tourists visit Phoenix? Better question: why would they want to?

The siren song of right-wing civic vandalism is that everyone is free to choose the crappiest city they can afford to live in. People with no taste (aka, right-wingers) probably think their drive-everywhere burbs are the pinnacle of civilization, much like Mike Huckabee is America's greatest bon vivant or that Sarah Palin is its most legendary wit. You get, as they say, what you pay for. In America, that means a lot of crap.

I would debate that automobiles are subsidized (much) in this country. To wit:

1. Gasoline Taxes

2. Sales taxes on cars and the related annual registration fees.

3. Excise taxes on tires.

4. Income taxes on profitable entities that use the roads (UPS, for example).

5. How are insurance costs subsidized?

6. The massive jobs and related infrastructure and the massive amount in taxes they pay related to the ownership, sale, repair, maintenance, and customization of cars.

The reason we don't have the rail infrastructure that other countries do is as follows::

1. We grew up late. Airplanes had not yet been invented when most of Europe grew up.

2. We're really big. LA to NY on a train? No thanks.

3. We're really spread out. Planes are fast.

4. We're really rich.

Here are some more cons about PT in Portland. It's from Cato, so take it with a grain of salt. But it links to information that I think is pretty accurate:

There are at least two sides to every story.

Just as Soleri enjoys taking light rail in Portland without worrying about costs, I'm sure the captain of this ship thinks it's the greatest ship in the world:

Not a word about the cost......

INPHX your #4 reason for why the US doesn't have rail infrastructure "We're really rich"

We're really rich, so why talk about costs. We're really rich, so we can afford Social Security and Medicare.

Defense spending because "the bad guys are coming" Really INPHX? Like WMD for the invasion of Iraq?

Heavily arming an incompetent, institutionally corrupt and greedy DC frightens me more.

INPHX, why does the political right believe that government can't do anything right but have religious faith in the military? It is all government to me.

"religious faith in the military" SCARY!

My problem with Phoenix lite rail.
Hard to drag race on Central
there is no Bob's Big Boy.
and it's ugly.


You're missing my point.

I think defense is just an inept at fiscal discipline as any other federal agency- they'll tell you the bad guys are coming, but that's often just an excuse to protect the bureaucracy and widen the budget.

Just like the EPA, etc.

We're rich in that our citizens can afford to fly. It costs more, but its faster

Faster is BETTER?

The EPA is my most favorite federal agency. I am hoping Obama and the EPA create more roadless Wilderness particularly in Utah and California. And if we could only get New York to look like it did in 1400.

Interesting article at City Journal about Chinese immigrants and Vancouver (B.C.). Notes a similar dynamic in Seattle. From the article:

The Chinese aren’t coming only to Vancouver. Michelle Lee, a real-estate agent in business since 1986, gushed to the Dallas Morning News that “the Chinese people have a ton of money, and they pay cash.” So, too, Seattle, where “real estate agents are hiring Mandarin speakers,” with Chinese buyers “accounting for up to one-third of $1-million-plus homes sold in certain areas,”

Latest on Glendale and the Coyotes:

Re: “One doesn't need true high-speed rain — although we should have it nationwide like every other advanced urbanized country in the world.” The only other countries that are remotely similar to the U.S. are Australia and Canada. To my knowledge, their passenger train systems are similar to the U.S.

From New Geography

• Portland, also a technology hub, and a decorated model among urban planners, ranks third in working at home commute share, at 6.40%. Transit share slightly smaller, at 6.37%. In 1980, however, transit's market share was nearly a third again its present level (8.4%), before the first of its six rail lines opened. In contrast, working at home has nearly tripled its share from 2.2% in 1980. In 2000, working at home attracted 4.60% of commuters in Portland, well below the 6.27% transit share.

• New York, by far the largest transit market in the United States, is also the largest work at home market in raw numbers (386,000). Yet, New York's transit market share (30.86%) is seven times its work at home share (4.17%).


Dacotah: "Before the railways crossed it, before a wagon trail was broken, before even the white man came, what a Wilderness it was..! It was no man's land."
John C Van Dyke.

And before the Europeans came, it was on foot. No concrete and steel, squatting in your own shit, compounds.


" one doesn't need true high speed rain"

I agree, a steady drizzle is best for the desert. Soaks into the ground. The Navajos call it the female rain, good for the earth.

Ruben, that U on that slow train in the vagina soft rain. Look out the window. Thats me on Mohave 374, Red Lined in my McQueen Mustang.
Hasta Pronto,
El Cabrone cal.

I am also a conservative in favor of heavy rail passenger service between Phoenix and Tucson. Arizona is light on rail resources and with national rail capacity significantly stretched due to the tremendous freight volume nationally, I feel that any additions or improvements to make passenger service possible might dovetail nicely with freight service. I feel that regardless of short-term costs, adding heavy rail infrastructure is definitely going to be a win if you look at it with a long-term horizon.

I particularly think this may be a ballot initiative issue, so to speak, as a lot of people, myself included, would look seriously at supporting potential heavy rail improvements in our state. But, I'm very pro-infrastructure and I would considering voting for all manner of less sexy things like bridge and road maintenance and so forth, not just fancy trains. :-)

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