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[Updated] The Redlands (Crazy) Train Project: It’s Worse Than Another Waste of Our Money Government Boondoggle

[Updated] The Redlands (Crazy) Train Project: It’s Worse Than Another Waste of Our Money Government Boondoggle

 The RDF published three articles thus far regarding the “Redlands Crazy Train.”  Interestingly, not one mentions there will be 24 diesel powered trains per day rolling through Redlands.

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/government-and-politics/20150221/redlands-passenger-rail-project-chugs-along  [2/21]

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/government-and-politics/20150221/redlands-passenger-rail-project-chugs-along [2/23]

 http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20150223/these-are-the-planned-redlands-passenger-rail-project-stations?source=topstoriesrot [2/23]

I posted the following comments.  Please add your comments.

The Redlands (Crazy) Train Project: It’s Worse Than Another Waste of Our Money Government Boondoggle.  It will make life, business and transportation worse in Redlands. 

I believe the most important facts about the “Redlands Crazy Train” are: 

  • It will run 24 diesel trains per day through Redlands making traffic worse.
  • It will waste $250 million plus operating losses, and few people will ride the train.
  • The City plans to replace the Redlands Mall with a huge 5 or 6 story “stack and pack” commercial and high density housing project and a concrete parking garage so big it will block view of the Kerkorian theater from the freeway.

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In the February 21 article, Councilmember Harrison states: “We should get good information right out from the start and get the dialogue going.”

I agree, but wouldn’t it be better to do so before starting the project.  The City should undertake to inform Redlands residents and businesses about this project and genuinely solicit their input and consent before proceeding.

At the Redlands city council meeting on February 3, the council approved a MOU TO WORK ON creating quiet zones for the proposed Redlands rail project.  IF the “quieting” works, that is better.  Otherwise, the trains have to blow their horns 3-4 times at each of the 12 crossing in Redlands.  QUIETING THE CROSSING COSTS EXTRA MONEY, AND THERE IS NO GUARANTY IT WILL HAPPEN.

In addition, there are many other problems with the Redlands train project aka the “Redlands crazy train” that make it much worse than another waste of our money government boondoggle for the following reasons. 

FIRST, the train project is estimated cost $250 million to build not including operating losses.  [Who will have to pay for the losses?]  In addition, most government projects cost more than estimated. 

Redlands is responsible for a big multi story parking garage that will cost $7-12 million, and they do not know where the money will come from.

According to the articles, SANBAG estimates the “Redlands Crazy Train” will operate at a loss made up of course by the taxpayers.

As Willie Brown said: “In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.” 

SECOND, with America $18 Trillion in debt (up from ~$10 Trillion when Obama took office), we should not squander taxpayer money even if from California or Federal taxpayers (whoever they might be). 

THIRD, as with the $200 Million SBx boondoggle, few people will ride the train from Redlands to San Bernardino.  What is the target market?  [BTW, has anyone seen more than 3 people on one of those big, two section SBx busses?]

What is the market?  Who is going to ride the train from Redlands San Bernardino or San Bernardino to Redlands?  

SANBAG’s own (probably high) projections are 720-820 and 20 years later only 1,120 and 1,340.  That’s probably 5-10 minutes of people on the 10 Freeway.

FOURTH, please see the following two articles regarding LA’s experience with public transit.  Despite spending billions and billions of taxpayer dollars, the percentage of commute trips in cars with one person increased, car pools decreased and there was a slight decrease in public transit (local bus service increased nearly offsetting decreases in other public transit).  Rail only works in older cities with dense downtowns.

Southern California Stuck in Drive: http://www.publicceo.com/2014/12/southern-california-stuck-in-drive/

 Los Angeles: Rail for Others: http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2014/11/los-angeles-rail-others/

FIFTH, the Redlands “Crazy Train” is worse than another government waste of our money boondoggle.  It will make life, business and transportation in Redlands worse.

SIXTH, the plan calls for 24 diesel powered trains running through Redlands on the tracks south of the freeway, by Esri, through downtown, through residential neighborhoods ending at U of R. 

BTW, none of the RDF three articles thus far mentions there will be 24 trains per day running through Redlands.  Why was this important fact omitted?

SEVENTH, there will be 12 street crossings including Eureka, Orange and 6th in the downtown area.

EIGHTH, this will make traffic much worse especially getting to and from the freeway at commute time.  Please see the attached picture of Tennessee and Redlands Blvd at 4:30 with no trains and imagine how much worse the traffic will be with trains.

If traffic backs up onto the freeway at commute times, it could be a safety hazard.

NINTH, the plan currently calls for full size diesel locomotives, although they said at the council meeting SANBAG may use smaller but still diesel locomotives.  IF that happens that will be better than full size diesel locomotives.  AS WITH QUIETING THE CROSSINGS, THERE IS NO GUARANTY SANBAG WILL PAY EXTRA MONEY FOR SMALLER DIESEL LOCOMOTIVES. 

TENTH, even if the trains do not blow their horns, the trains will still make a lot of noise harming nearby businesses and reducing quality of life and property values for people who live near the tracks with 24 trains per day.

ELEVENTH, this project has largely gone under the radar, (intentionally?)

  1. How many downtown businesses know they plan to run 24 diesel trains per day through downtown? How will that effect traffic downtown?  How will that affect your business?
  2. There are hotels and motels along the rail line. How will 24 diesel trains per day affect those businesses?
  3. How many people who live near the tracks know they plan to run 24 diesel trains per day near your homes? How will that affect your quality of life?  How will that affect your property values?
  4. The Redlands Chamber of Commerce is strangely silent on this project that will greatly and adversely affect many of its members. I am not aware that the Redlands Chamber of Commerce has done anything to inform its members about this project.

TWELFTH, an integral part of the rail project is “transit oriented development.”  That means dense high-rise “stack and pack” housing near the planned train stations at Esri, downtown and at U of R? 

  1. Is that appropriate for the historic downtown area and the residential areas near U of R?
  2. Is that kind of development consistent with the unique character of Redlands?
  3. The article mentions the planned “high density housing” aka “stack and pack.” At the Redlands Republican Women’s meeting on February 20, Council Member Barich explained the city plans to replace the Redlands Mall with 2 stories of commercial and 3 or 4 stories of high density “stack and pack” housing. 
  4. Please understand the City wants to replace the existing mall with a huge 5 or 6 structure in the historic downtown.
  5. The plan calls for a huge concrete parking garage downtown so large that it will block the view of the Kirkorian theater from the freeway. To his credit, Mayor Foster opposes this monstrosity. 

THIRTEENTH, if SANBAG really wants to increase public transit ridership, the above articles regarding LA show how.  When LA reduced bus fares in 1983-1985, ridership increased 40% only to fall off after the special subsidy program ended.  Ironically, LA wanted to spend the money on rail projects.  However, each new bus rider cost $1.00.  For LA’s Gold line, each rider will cost $30.00.

  1. Buses are flexible (they can change routes), cost less, make less noise, obstruct traffic little if at all, are clean (running on natural gas), and you could start new bus service much more quickly.
  2. Assuming SANBAG thinks there is a market for express service from San Bernardino to Esri to downtown Redlands to U of R, why not set up an express bus service with those stops? That could be done quickly; it would cost much less than the “crazy train” and avoid the many serious problems with the rail project. 
  3. Building the train when there is a less expensive alternative that will avoid the many problems with train, now that is really “crazy.”

FOURTEENTH, in the election campaign last fall, candidate Jane Dreher, who used to work for SANBAG, acknowledged the purpose of the train is change people’s lifestyles. 

  1. Is changing people’s lifestyles appropriate for government?
  2. Is the government our servant or our master?
  3. A recuing theme in the articles is the government has decided how we should and want to live and transport themselves. Thank you, We the People are quite capable of deciding that for ourselves. 
  4. If people want to live in “stack and pack,” the free market will provide it.
  5. When the government tries to change how we live and work, is the government acting as our servant or our master?
  6. Councilmembers Barich and Foster have said the “Redlands Crazy Train” is going through and can’t be stopped. Why is that?  Who works for whom?

Councilmembers Barich and Foster are wrong that the “Redlands Crazy Train” can’t be stopped.  All power is inherent in the people if they choose to exercise their power. 

“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” Justice Louis D. Brandeis  If the people of Redlands learn about the “Redlands Crazy Train,” decide they do not want it, and we fullfil the obligations of that “most important political office,” the “Redlands Crazy Train” can be stopped.

FIFTEENTH, the government and liberals want other people, not them of course, to take the train or bus.  The bus and train go where and when the government wants.  Cars go where and when we want. 

Most people want the freedom and flexibility of driving their cars. 

Last summer I saw people waiting in the sun in 90º + temperatures wasting their time waiting for the bus.  That is the liberal “sustainable” vision for us.

 

SIXTEENTH, SANBAG (albeit with the support of the Redlands City Council) is behind the plan to run 24 diesel powered trains per day through Redlands, crossing 12 streets, and going through downtown and residential area near U of R.  Do we elect the SANBAG board of directors?  Can we vote them out office if we do not like their decisions?  [Welcome to regional government, another key component of so called “sustainability.”]

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The Inland Empire Transit Alliance, urges the citizens of Redlands to inform themselves on this project that will make life, business and transportation worse in Redlands.  The Inland Empire Transit Alliance urges the city to do better in informing the citizens of Redlands about all aspects of this project so they can make informed decisions about it.

To learn more, please see and sign up for updates at

https://ietransitalliance.wordpress.com/

If you agree the train project is “crazy,” I offer the words of Howard Jarvis:

If there is something about government you don’t like, get together and do something about it.” 

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Please see this picture of Tennessee and Redlands Blvd. at 4:30 pm with no trains.  How much worse will the traffic be with trains?

Tenn-Redlands Blvd.cost

1 Comment

  1. Gregory Brittain

    To better understand why the government wants to squander $250 Million plus operating subsidies on a train few people will ride, please see:

    CA vs. The Suburbs: Planners, Smart Growth, and the Manhattan Delusion (SCAG)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O_m-0rx0Ug

    “In a great nation like ours, you can’t let people do what they want. It has to be coordinated.” Hasan Ikharata, Executive Director SCAG

    Mr. Ikharata was well trained for his current job as director of SCAG. He was a former central planner for the Soviet Union.

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