Negotiation for Transbay Terminal Land Transfer Continues
The Caltrain downtown San Francisco
extension project is still on track despite
Governor Davis's veto of AB 1419, a bill
which would have transferred
the Transbay Terminal prop-
erty from Caltrans to the City
of San Francisco. The land
transfer is an essential step to-
wards building the extension.
In his veto message in Octo-
ber, the Governor declared his
support for the project, and negotiations be-
tween the City of San Francisco and Caltrans
are progressing. "Letters from concerned rid-
ers helped us put pressure on the Davis ad-
ministration to move this project forward,"
said BayRail Executive Director Margaret
Okuzumi. "Transbay project officials expect
Transbay Terminal project to start late next
year. "Your support was priceless. Without
it the Transbay Terminal project might have
ended up on the chopping block in the re-
gional plan last Fall." Okuzumi said.
However, Caltrain and Transbay Ter-
minal proponents see the current budget
shortfalls at the local, state, and federal gov-
ernments as possible threats. The slow
economy, as well as other expenditure pri-
orities, have prompted massive cutbacks in
transportation funding. Assuming that all the
needed funding is found, proponents opti-
mistically expect the new Transbay Termi-
nal, along with Caltrain Downtown Exten-
sion, to be completed in 2008.
Congress is currently debating the
future of Amtrak. Complete restructuring and
elimination of all overnight long haul trains
including the Coast Starlight are likely pros-
pects this year. Rail proponents argue that
Amtrak, like other transportation modes, re-
quires ongoing federal subsidies. While
Congress in September approved a $15 bil-
lion bailout for the airline industry with little
debate, they have kept Amtrak on a starva-
tion budget for several years. Acting Amtrak
chairman Michael Dukakis advocates a ma-
jor increase in federal subsidies for intercity
rail, to a level equivalent to 5% of that for
aviation and highways. BayRail encourages
those concerned about this issue to join the
National Association of Rail Passengers at
www.narprail.org. Also visit BayRail's web
site at www.bayrailalliance.org/amtrak for
more on what you can do to save Amtrak.
Amtrak in Trouble
Davis Fully Funds High Speed Rail Study
and international flights, and thereby reduce
the need for airport expansion.
Historically, the first major impediment
to progress for HSR has been simply a lack
of awareness by the public, government, and
business leaders. HSRA board chair Rod
Diridon, now the undisputed "chief advo-
cate" of HSR, has helped to secure Gover-
nor Davis' support. Due to the energy crisis
which impacted the state budget, Governor
Davis cut funding for the project last year.
However, in January he allocated the full
amount requested for ongoing preliminary
environmental and engineering studies in his
proposed budget for 2002-03.
Even with the growing political and
grassroots support, advocates are cau-
tiously optimistic. At the national level, the
hijackings of September 11 and the subse-
quent grounding of all commercial flights lent
urgency to HSR proposals already under-
way. Three bills that would fund HSR were
working their way through Congress at the
time. Despite bipartisan support, none of
these made it to a floor vote before the end
of last year's legislative session. Now all eyes
are on Congress to decide the fate of Amtrak,
after the announcement that Amtrak needs
a major funding boost to keep long distance
Also, given the prospect that HSR
could reduce the demand for air travel, HSR
advocates expect active opposition from
some "short hop" airlines such as Southwest.
In 1994, largely due to pressure from South-
west Airlines, Texas dropped plans for HSR.
In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush killed plans for
HSR, which were well underway in early 1999.
However, voters in Florida reversed this deci-
sion in November 2000, when they approved
an amendment to the state constitution re-
quiring that HSR construction begin by 2003.
The HSRA in California plans to make
final route selections in early 2003, which
will enable them to begin securing right-of-
way property. The HSRA tentatively plans a
statewide ballot initiative for 2004 specify-
ing some method of funding for HSR. Their
last statewide poll, conducted before Sep-
tember 11, found that voters supported HSR
by a two-to-one margin.
Getting up to Speed
, from page 1]
The conceptual plan for a new, bus-
tling, welcoming, and amenity-filled station
at University Avenue will go before the Palo
Alto City Council on March 4. If approved,
the city will seek state and federal funding
for the project and perform studies and en-
gineering work to required build the project.
The new design, among other ben-
efits, will make it easier for people to walk
and bike between the Palo Alto station,
downtown, the Stanford campus and Shop-
ping Center. Over 3000 people a day use the
Palo Alto station, the second highest rider-
ship on the Caltrain line (after the San Fran-
cisco 4th & King station). With the new
Caltrain express service, that number is ex-
pected to double.
However, some council members re-
portedly have reservations about the need
for this ambitious project, as well as con-
cerns about its cost. Proponents for the sta-
tion argue that the station could be con-
structed in phases if all of the money cannot
be located right away.
BayRail encourages Palo Alto resi-
dents to attend the city council meeting on
March 4 and to contact councilmembers be-
forehand to express support for this project.
"The Palo Alto station will be a model for
other cities to learn that Caltrain stations
don't have to be desolate, isolated, and in-
convenient places." said BayRail executive
director Margaret Okuzumi.
Palo Alto Station
a deal on the land transfer to be worked out
before May, and certainly no later than
the November election."
Okuzumi cited over-
whelming grassroots sup-
port last Fall as key to el-
evating the status of the
Caltrain/Transbay project to
the list of projects with
funding priority in both the
Plan and Regional Transit Expansion Policy.
With the project's inclusion in MTC's list,
and with negotiations underway to transfer
the property, San Francisco officials expect
construction of the first phase of the