Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stop the Central Subway!


See this CitiReport by Larry Bush ("Lobbyists Turn Millions Into Billions") on how lobbyists influence projects like the Central Subway.


Instead of Muni service cutbacks, fare/fee increases and crumbling infrastructure, imagine how the Central Subway's hundreds of millions of dollars in existing state/local funds could revitalize the citywide Muni System. Political leaders do pay heed to well-reasoned arguments of their constituents. 


Things are heating up. If you read today's Chronicle or Examiner you will know that Muni's financial position is fast deteriorating. It is no longer possible (if it ever was) to continue diverting funds and key personnel to the Central Subway without major additional cuts in Muni service and continued deferred maintenance. 

In the Congress, Representative Tom McClintock of California has introduced an Amendment to HR 7 stating that "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available under this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, may be used for the Central Subway Project of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency." We should all get behind this amendment.

It's time to act. Please help flood your own elected reps with telephone calls and e-mails opposing the subway. Persuade your like-minded friends and colleagues to do likewise. We have now a real chance to stop the Central Subway, but it will take effort. Your message should be brief and punchy. One sentence is sufficient, so long as it's clear. Something like: "The Central Subway would be a disaster for Muni and San Francisco. I urge you to deny federal funding to this wasteful and virtually useless project." 

Your name,
phone number

Please do this right away. Stopping the Central Subway is not Republican, Democrat or partisan---it's about ending waste and inefficiency for the benefit of the neighborhoods of San Francisco.

Jerry Cauthen

Howard Wong,

CONTACTS---Here are San Francisco's elected representatives:

Representative Nancy Pelosi:  202 225 4965 or 

Representative Jackie Speier:  202 225 3531 

Senator Dianne Feinstein: 202 224 3841

Senator Barbara Boxer:  202 224 3553

Governor Jerry Brown:  916 445 2841 or

Mayor Ed Lee 415 554 6141

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China is ahead on high-speed rail! Oh, wait...

Getty images
By Malcolm Moore
The Telegraph
21 Feb 2012

Out of 23 current railway projects, some 70 per cent have been suspended, partly suspended, or delayed, according to the Chinese state media. Meanwhile, an unnamed source told Dow Jones, the news agency, that only nine new railways would be commissioned this year, compared to 70 last year.

Having run up enormous debts, the Chinese Railways ministry is struggling to persuade banks to continue to finance its ambitions. Ticket sales, meanwhile, have been slow on some lines as travellers balk at the price.

"The ministry cannot bear so much debt. It has already taken 240 billion yuan (£24 billion) of loans and if it takes much more how can it pay the interest?" said Wang Mengshu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and senior consultant on the high-speed rail project.

"It can make profits of about 70 billion yuan on freight, but it is making no money on passenger travel. The government should cancel some of the debt, or invest some money itself rather than asking the banks to finance it," he added. "A lot of projects are half-finished and while nine new lines have been approved this year, no one has started building them."

By the end of this year, China's high-speed network is likely to stretch to over 6,000 miles, transporting hundreds of millions of passengers in spacious long-nosed bullet trains. The 819-mile journey from Beijing to Shanghai, more than twice the distance from London to Edinburgh, now takes under five hours...

However, China's high-speed rail ambitions, which include tendering for the London to Birmingham high-speed link, took a blow last July when two trains collided, killing 40 and injuring almost 200. A few months before the crash, China's Railway minister, Liu Zhijun was removed from his post and now faces corruption charges. Zhang Shuguang, the deputy chief engineer, who is also under investigation, reportedly paid £540,000 for a house in Los Angeles while on a monthly salary of a few hundred pounds.

Questions were raised about how much of the £190 billion high-speed rail budget had been siphoned off, and whether it would have an impact on the safety of the network. In the wake of the crash, the Ministry found it increasingly expensive to borrow money, and no longer had access to the huge stimulus loans that were handed out in the wake of the financial crisis to keep the Chinese economy going.

"The Ministry's debts are now worth 60 per cent of its assets, and some analysts think they may rise to 70 per cent this year," reported the China Business Times.

Thanks to High-Speed Train Talk for the link.

More on China and the CHSRA.