Caltrain

Allies Challenge AB 1899's Constitutionality

Five individuals, three non-profit organizations, the Town of Atherton and Kings County amended their lawsuit today, seeking a ruling that the California High-Speed Rail Authority's (CHSRA) efforts to obtain construction funding from a voter-approved bond measure violate the state constitution. The case is the second one filed as Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, or Tos II. Legal papers are available here.

The Third District Court of Appeal had previously ruled that Prop. 1A, the 2008 $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure, created a "financial straitjacket" restricting the use of the bond funds. Plaintiffs allege in their suit that the Legislature's passage of AB 1889 created a tool that attempts to evade the bond measure's restrictions.

However, because AB 1889 fundamentally alters that voter-approved measure, plaintiffs allege it is unconstitutional, as are the funding plans that rely on it. Newly added as a plaintiff is retired judge and former CHSRA Chair Quentin Kopp, who helped write Prop. 1A and has joined the case to defend that measure as the voters approved it.
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Caltrain Electrification Suit Fully Briefed

The challenge to Caltrain’s Electrification EIR is now fully briefed. (See bottom of page.) Petitioners assert that the electrification project is really the first phase of the HSR Blended System on the Peninsula, making the EIR an impermissibly chopped study of the project’s overall impacts. A hearing has been scheduled for 9 AM, September 2, 2016 in Contra Costa Superior Court.

TRANSDEF Files Caltrain Electrification Lawsuit

TRANSDEF today joined in two litigation coalitions to file suit. In the first lawsuit, it joined the Town of Atherton and the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail to challenge the Caltrain electrification EIR. TRANSDEF’s concern here is that spending $1.5 billion on electrification will not do much to help ridership. That same money would have a much bigger effect on ridership if it were spent to build the Caltrain Downtown Extension to the Transbay Transit Center. Worse, by trading its current surplus capacity to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for electrification funding, it places a cap on its future ridership. In an era of climate change, in which we need transit operators to greatly expand their ridership, this is a profound strategic error.

For thirty years, Caltrain has wanted to electrify, but never had the money. TRANSDEF believes that this longstanding desire blinded it to the agency’s best interests. We see this as tragically similar to the Biblical tale of Esau selling his birthright to his brother Jacob because he was hungry one night.

TRANSDEF filed extensive comments on the
DEIR and the FEIR. See the Caltrain Electrification page for he background. Read More...

Caltrain Electrification--Has Caltrain Lost its Way?

Caltrain issued its very large Draft Environmental Impact Report for its Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project, which depends on HSR funding to electrify the tracks from San Jose to San Francisco. TRANSDEF filed extensive Comments and Attachments, making the case for studying a fully worked-up DEMU (Dual-mode diesel-electric multiple unit) alternative. This alternative would accomplish many of the goals of the electrification project while remaining within the financial reach of Caltrain, now that HSR seems to be crashing. Because it would eliminate most if not all the proposed electrification that is controversial for a significant portion of the public, it would improve Caltrain’s public support. A policy letter to the Joint Powers Board makes the case that Altamont Corridor access to the Bay Area should be reconsidered and supported, because it would preserve Caltrain’s capacity to grow in the future, and because it would allow Caltrain to determine its own future, independent of the fate of HSR. Read More...