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Archive for the ‘High Speed Rail’ Category

Guest on The Infra Blog: Frank Vacca, Chief Program Manager, California High-Speed Rail Authority

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Frank Vacca, Chief Program Manager, CHSRA

As of Oct. 2012, Frank Vacca has been the Chief Program Manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. In his role, Vacca leads technical and engineering teams as they focus on delivering the high-speed rail project.

“I believe California will be the first high-speed-rail system in North America…We’ve overcome all the legal challenges before us…We have the first billion-dollar contract, and the designs are mature enough to start construction…So there’s nothing, no obstacles, in front of us right now.”

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Erik Steavens, Rail Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
Erik Steavens on The Infra Blog

Erik Steavens is a twenty-year transportation professional with a diverse background in multimodal transportation. For the past two years, he has managed his own firm, TIP Consultants, to assist public and private sector clients in navigating through the complex transportation funding and implementation environment. Previously, Steavens was the division director of intermodal programs for the Georgia Department of Transportation, where he managed the state’s rail, transit, aviation and port interests.

“Certainly we have been blessed with corridors in Texas that have the potential for the ridership and revenue growth that could sustain a high-speed rail operation…There are very few places in the country that could make those claims. So we are optimistic. We are hopeful that we can help facilitate a project that could be a true game changer for Texas.”

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Future of Rail 2050

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
This graphic depicts countries and territories with 2050 urban populations exceeding 100,000. Circles are scaled in proportion to urban population size.

ARUP
This thought-piece focuses on the passenger and user experience. The journeys imagined here are intended to generate a conversation about the future and provide the big picture context for future planning and decision-making by the rail industry and by governments. They are also intended to set out a forward-looking and inspiring vision for rail. With the increasing pace of technological change, perhaps the more imaginative scenarios will come to fruition. The case studies indicate trends taking place in rail. They are early signs of possible directional change, and reveal directions in which the future could be heading. Whether these become more widely implemented remains to be seen.

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Will There Be a “Tipping Point” for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 13
Count me among the skeptics…Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood liked to justify a national HSR program by drawing a parallel with the commitment to build the Interstate Highway system. But the analogy is misleading. What made the Interstate highway program politically feasible and financially sound was the concept of a user fee collected from millions of highway users and dedicated exclusively to the program. A national rail program could not hope to have this kind of revenue stream. Instead, it would need to depend on massive federal subsidies for years to come.

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The High-Speed Rail Debate Revisited

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 12
Two recent columns in the New York Times (both reprinted below) have revived the semi-dormant debate about the future of high-speed rail in America. The first column, by New York Times correspondent Ron Nixon, casts a skeptical eye on the Administration’s high-speed rail program and concludes that “despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009….the projects have gone mostly nowhere…”

The second column, closely following the first, is an opinion piece by the Times’ editorial board. The editors may have felt obliged to respond to the highly critical assessment of the White House initiative by one of their own reporters.

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Modal Shift and High-Speed Rail: A Review of the Current Literature

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
This report provides a review of scholarly literature with direct relevance to the topic of modal shift and high-speed rail (HSR). HSR systems are usually planned on the expectation that they will attract riders who would have chosen other modes (such as air, automobile, bus, etc.) had the HSR not been created. Identifying and measuring the actual ability of HSR to effect modal shift is therefore critical. To establish the most current systematic research on the topic, this report examines the evidence concerning HSR and modal shift in both secondary analyses of previous studies and in newer studies that use primarily original data. The studies that were reviewed comprise a large variety of HSR systems, time periods, data sources, and means of analysis.

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Janet Kavinoky, Executive Director, Congressional & Public Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Janet Kavinoky, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Janet F. Kavinoky is a nationally recognized expert in transportation policy, funding, and finance. As executive director in the Chamber’s Congressional and Public Affairs Division, Kavinoky leads all transportation strategy, policy, and lobbying efforts. She has expertise in developing consensus policy positions among diverse stakeholders and lobbying Congress and executive branch agencies on a wide range of legislative and regulatory matters relating to surface, air, and water transportation.

“We need to look at infrastructure going forward, in the same way, I think, that an entrepreneur does when they’re pitching a business plan to an investor. An entrepreneur helps the investor visualize what’s going to happen, lays out a strategy, and inspires confidence to execute on that strategy. “

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program

Monday, May 12th, 2014
Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Robert Puentes is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program where he also directs the program’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative. The Initiative was established to address the pressing transportation and infrastructure challenges facing cities and suburbs in the United States and abroad.

“There’s no doubt that the paralysis in Washington is real and pervasive. I think we overemphasize, though, the federal role in a lot of this…I think, in fact, the federal paralysis is making states, cities, metropolitan areas experiment with a whole host of different things in order to get projects done.”

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Why High-Speed Rail Isn’t Less Cost-Effective Than Other Transit Investments (Part Two)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Last week UCLA published a working paper arguing that urban transportation projects were more cost-effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than high-speed rail (HSR). I posted a critique of that paper, focusing first on the benefits side of the ledger, showing that the authors had overstated the user savings of light rail, bus, and bicycle infrastructure projects while HSR’s savings may have been undersold. This week, I’m going to look at costs.

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Why High-Speed Rail Isn’t Less Cost-Effective Than Other Transit Investments (Part One)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

As someone who’s been car-free for going on six years, I’m the last person to criticize someone trying to raise the profile of local transit and active transportation investments — I rely on them every day and frequently write about the need for more. Even though most people don’t get rid of their cars when new transit services arrive, some do, and that’s amazing. We should celebrate and encourage that. But at the same time, pitting different forms of clean, efficient transit against one another isn’t productive, especially when those transit types serve entirely different purposes. I feel that this recent UCLA report understated the benefits of HSR while overselling the benefits of rail, bus, and bike infrastructure. In truth, they’re both outstanding investments and perfect complements, and we should be striving to find ways to build more of each.

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