Monday, June 13, 2011

The California High-Speed Rail Project and the Peninsula Caltrain Corridor: A Failed Marriage

Honorable Mayor and Members of the Menlo Park City Council:
Regarding staff report and recommendation: # 11-108, Agenda Item # D7  A Resolution supporting Eshoo, Simitian, Gordon's "High-Speed Rail Done Right."

1. It should have become crystal clear by now that High-Speed Rail in California cannot be done right.

2. We should no longer be  engaged in the tweaking, negotiating, accommodating process with the duplicitous High-Speed Rail Authority.

3. Deploying High-Speed Rail is the absolutely worst way to "save" Caltrain, if that is the intention of this resolution. (see below)

4. It is well past time to struggle with alignments, routes, two or four tracks, and all the other issues that, at the core, accept the inevitability of High-Speed Rail on the Caltrain corridor.

5. It is, furthermore, high time for the Menlo Park City Council to stand up and take a definitive stand, even if it means opposing staff recommendations.

6. That stand should be an unambiguous opposition to High-Speed Rail on the Caltrain corridor under any conditions or circumstances.

7.  Anyone doing their high-speed rail homework will have learned that there will be no further funds beyond the current Federal $3 billion, intended for the Central Valley.  High-Speed Rail/Caltrain expectations on the Peninsula are moot.

8.  This is the moment -- and we must seize the opportunity -- to stand in unified opposition to High-Speed Rail on the Caltrain corridor, if not in the entire State of California. 

9. Menlo Park's actions should be, not to acquiesce  to staff recommendations, but to take a leadership role on the Peninsula in seeking a unified voice among all our towns to reject all the various tactics and strategies mounted by both politicians and the rail authority to bring HSR to the Caltrain corridor.  There can be no acceptable alignment.

10. "Staged Implementation" is code language for acquiring turf, even without funds.  "Value Engineering," another phrase of the rail authority, is doing construction on the cheap.  The Caltrain corridor is in danger of getting locked in by the rail authority with their political maneuvering.  We must oppose this.

About Caltrain:

1. We must have Commuter Rail Service on the Peninsula.

2. The multi-layered Caltrain, JPB, SamTrans, SMC Transit Authority, is incapable, due to mis-management, of preserving and improving urban/regional public mass transit on the corridor.

3. Contrary to the erroneous assumptions of Caltrain's so-called "Friends," High-Speed Rail can affect nothing that will improve
Caltrain performance or service.  To the contrary.

4. The problem of Peninsula Commuter Rail Service is that it is preserved as an independent local transit service.  That is wrong.  It must be institutionally integrated with BART and other Bay Area wide rail transit capacity.  It must be funded and managed at the state level, not the local level, like the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Board which now oversees BART.  There must be created a highly integrated network of transit, managed under far closer scrutiny and oversight.

5. The "Friends of Caltrain" movement is highly myopic and fails to grasp the regional nature of public mass transit.  Throwing more tax dollars at Caltrain is a recipe for continuing failure.  There are solutions at hand but will take intelligence and courage to implement.

Respectfully and Cordially submitted,

Martin Engel

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