Proposed HSR flunks design test

As an industrial design student at San Jose State many years ago, I learned there are three key elements to any successful design: It must be functional, convenient and attractive.

The high-speed rail, as proposed, fails on two of those three key elements. It only passes on attractiveness; the illustrations look great.

It fails the convenience element. It goes up and down the Central Valley corridor. A trip from the Bay Area to the Central Valley terminal would require about one hour. Passengers would take a three-hour train ride and get off at Los Angeles.

It also fails the function element; there is no viable public transportation at the end of the ride. For example, how can a family get from the Los Angeles terminal to, say, Disneyland? You would have to rent a car, just as you would after an airplane trip.

High-speed transit is needed, but it must be implemented at destination cities first. That's why bullet trains are successful in Europe and Asia. California's urban sprawl will make this extremely difficult.

Eric Jensen

Discovery Bay Jensen is a retired industrial designer

Flying will remain faster, cheaper

Good grief, Jerry Brown!


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This bullet train boondoggle Brown just pushed through the Assembly and Senate tops everything that has come before: Costs skyrocket, the route gets shorter, and it takes major gifts for some legislators to sign on.

No wonder much of the United States thinks of California as the Land of Fruits and Nuts.

Here's one more wart on the bullet-train nose cone: you think you'll get onboard just as you do on BART? Think again. It's a perfect target for a suicide bomber, so figure on an airport-style TSA inspection of your person and luggage.

One might as well fly to Los Angeles for the next 50 years, since it will always be faster and may cost less, unless future California taxpayers are called on to subsidize ticket prices for this white elephant.

Tom Gardner

Orinda

High-speed rail move is correct decision

I agree with our Legislature's decision on high-speed rail because I plan to use it to visit my son in San Diego. This means of travel spares the air and is faster than driving.

I noticed that my senator, Mark DeSaulnier, a former Republican, sided with his Republican colleagues in voting no.

DeSaulnier has also opposed raising the state tax on gasoline, which hasn't been increased since the mid-1990s. Gasoline in California is half the price it is in most countries worldwide, where taxes are levied on gasoline for necessary infrastructure -- a good thing.

Ralph Hoffmann

Walnut Creek

Cost raises fears for California's future

The high-speed train that voters approved in 2008 at $9.9 billion is now expected to cost $69 billion and goes from nowhere to nowhere.

We are in a recession and the funds to support basics, such as education and social services, are being cut. I fear we'll end up with a high-speed train half-finished and a failing state due to lack of necessary programs.

I fear for California's future. My heart aches for California.

Jean Fisk

San Pablo

Bullet train doesn't make any sense

It appears that Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field" is now residing in Sacramento.

I cannot come up with any scenario where building the California bullet train makes any sense.

Why is it the legislators can only "take bold action" when it comes to spending massive amounts of money? Where is their "bold action" when making the state live within its means?

The only reasoning I've heard from bullet train supporters relates to the economic stimulation that will come once travel between Los Angeles and the Bay Area is facilitated by the train.

Exactly how is travel presently hindered? There are dozens of flights daily that take about 50 minutes each way for $120 round trip. The bullet train will cost $170 round trip and take more than three times longer.

Business meetings are better served by video conferencing, where two whole rooms full of people can be connected for less than the cost of a single flight.

A "stimulus" that costs about $70 billion and is estimated to be completed in 2028 is a horribly inefficient use of money we don't have.

Jack Hagerty

Livermore

California's HSR is a train to nowhere

The bullet train: The ride is over.

That is to say, the great American ride, premised on the happy-face belief that the United States is No. 1 and that everything's going to get better again. The bullet train is California's Bridge to Nowhere.

For those who are taken in by whatever election cycle's version of Ronald Reagan's, "It's morning in America ..., " I have a bridge to sell you -- or a train.

Jeffrey L. Suits

Kensington

Bullet train simply beyond our means

Our legislators figure we can put some $8 billion toward beginning to build a high-speed rail system, with the federal government's contribution of $3 billion, from Merced to Bakersfield.

This sets the stage for our state to come up with an additional $58 billion to complete a bullet train that eventually extends to Los Angeles.

It really is a no-brainer, especially since our state is $19 billion in the red! Our elected state government representatives have no brains at all.

Alexander Montalvo

Bethel Island

California losing due to its politicians

The California Legislature's decision on high-speed rail is not surprising.

Our legislative majority operates using the three "I" concept. They demonstrate a high level of idiocy, by showing no sense of reality or any ability to apply common sense to critically important policy matters.

Second is insane decision-making as they do the same things again and again and expect a different outcome.

Then ignorance as they demonstrate zero understanding of basic economic facts and the free market, resulting in high debts everywhere.

No wonder California is losing businesses and residents at an alarming rate, while ranking last in business friendliness in the country. Why do we elect such inept politicians?

Gary Buffon

El Cerrito

Billions will be spent on a costly boondoggle

Do our state legislators think taxpayers will welcome the bullet train they voted for?

After reading articles in the Times about the bullet train, I hoped legislators realized we don't need it. California has many issues that should take priority over this boondoggle.

Now is not the time for it. No one seems to have a grip on reality when it comes to improving our economy. While some jobs will be created, will they go to local workers?

Legislators have forgotten that we voters trusted them to do the right thing for our benefit. It doesn't matter to them how much of our money they spend.

I'm ashamed of those who sold their souls to the devil for a lousy $3.3 billion of federal money and threw the rest of us into eternal debt. I am proud of the few with a backbone who didn't vote for this project.

I'm ashamed to say that I'm a California native. I have several family members and friends in many states and California is the laughingstock of this country!

Ruth Olson

Martinez

Look for Sunday's Opinion page to read more letters on the high speed rail debate.