Regional Alliance For Transit
1000 Union Street, Suite 207
San Francisco, California 94133
Telephone: 415 440 6895
August 28, 2004
Re: Comments on DEIR/EIS for the proposed California High Speed Rail Project
To whom it may concern:
The Regional Alliance For Transit (RAFT) was organized in 1992 to save the Transbay Transit Terminal from demolition and to make sure bus service was an integral part of a new intermodal facility for Caltrain and statewide high speed rail. Over the past twelve years RAFT has advocated for the development of a properly designed high-speed rail system in California. RAFT supports the findings in the DEIR/EIS that a HSR project is the best way to meet the states future intercity mobility needs.
RAFT finds the detail of the DEIR/EIS troubling. RAFT is very concerned over the omission of an Altamont alternative from the DEIR/EIS. RAFT feels that an Altamont alignment should be studied, as it seems to be the alternative best suited to providing a significant improvement to mobility in Northern California, offers the fastest travel times to all destinations in the Bay Area, with the exception of San Jose, and is by far the lowest-cost alternative. Specific questions that are unanswered in the DEIR/EIS are:
How can any extra minutes of travel time between every Bay Area station (except San Jose) and the rest of the statewide system be justified? What is the justification for dropping the Altamont alternative which provided the fastest travel times to the majority of destinations?
What community input lead to the development of the Coe/Diablo alternatives?
What consideration was made of tying in HSR to the Bay Area's considerable existing mass transit system?
Is it assumed that HSR passengers will drive to the San Francisco terminal? Where will they park? Would they not instead take Muni, BART or AC Transit to the terminal? If passengers are assumed to drive, what are the air quality impacts?
Should not the DEIR/EIS have provided information as to how the proposed HSR will work in a comprehensive manner with existing bus and rail transit at the proposed San Francisco, San Francisco Airport, Redwood City and San Jose stations, and air quality and highway and local road congestion?
If the Altamont alignment is going to be studiedhow could it not be?should not the DEIR/EIS show the tying in of existing mass transit to stations in the vicinity of Livermore and Fremont and the impacts on highway congestion and air quality?
How many passengers projected to use the CHSRA for commuting are current Caltrain passengers? How does this migration of riders affect Caltrain, and what ridership implications does this have for the Pacheco and Diablo Direct alignments studied by the DEIR/EIS? How has the operation of the Caltrain Baby Bullet trains been analyzed in the DEIR/EIS?
It is understood environmental leaders met with Authority staff and Board members over the issue of a bay crossing at Dumbarton. Will the results of this meeting be added to the EIR/EIS to expand the discussion of environmental concerns over a Dumbarton Crossing?
Why are there no maps showing specific alignment options, especially maps that could be used to correlate the segment cost data, presented in http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/eir/pdf/rgn_stdies/state/Costs/Final_Cost _Rept_App_F.pdf ?
Why werent operations for the rejected Altamont alignment modeled based on projected demand at Bay Area terminals, rather than assuming an equal split of service between San Jose and San Francisco terminals in phase one, or between San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland in the final service scenario?
Why do the cost estimates for a Dumbarton HSR bridge seem to be about 4 times higher than the costs for recent Bay Area bridge projects, including the San Mateo Bridge trestle, Benicia Bridge, and the Zampa Bridge? Wouldnt the use of recently completed projects offer a more accurate cost than a very preliminary design for a hypothetical bridge planned for the widest part of the bay?
Why are there no impacts mentioned concerning the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery, even though the Pacheco alignment seems to cross the cemetery? Was the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs notified of the existence of the DEIR/EIS and of the opportunity to make comments?
RAFT believes that the EIR/EIS is incomplete without the reintroduction of an Altamont alternative. We would be happy to meet with Authority staff to outline our fully-developed proposal.