High Speed Rail--An Overview

TRANSDEF has long been a supporter of High Speed Rail (HSR). We believe that building HSR is the best way to provide connectivity between California’s regions. It will encourage land use plans to emphasize proximity to transit and minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the goals of SB 375. HSR is an important part of California’s strategy for the future.

Organization of this HSR Website
Background Information

  • The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has made a total mess of its assigned responsibility by politicizing what should have been a straightforward project. It has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars creating plans for a system that cannot be built.
  • TRANSDEF’s 2013 proposal for how to fix the mess.

Earlier Lawsuits
  • Atherton I Lawsuit--our coalition’s first challenge of the CHSRA’s Bay Area to Central Valley Environmental review
  • New Altamont Alignment--TRANSDEF and its ally hired a French HSR consulting firm to design a new Altamont route
  • Ridership Challenge--our coalition’s challenge of a secret change in the ridership model that penalized Altamont ridership
  • Atherton II Lawsuit--our coalition’s second challenge of the CHSRA’s Bay Area to Central Valley Environmental review
  • Atherton II Appeal--our coalition’s appeal of the ridership and alternatives parts of the final ruling, in which the federal preemption of CEQA unexpectedly came up
  • Atherton III Lawsuit--our coalition’s third challenge of of the CHSRA’s Bay Area to Central Valley Environmental review
  • Tos Lawsuit Part I--a taxpayer lawsuit asserting that the CHSRA project does not qualify for Prop. 1A HSR bond funds
  • Validation Suit- CHSRA’s attempt at getting a pass on challenges to the sale of HSR bonds
  • Extraordinary Writ--CHSRA’s attempt to get around decisions in the Tos and Validation cases by petitioning the CA Supreme Court

Current Lawsuits
  • Tos Lawsuit Part II--a taxpayer lawsuit asserting that the CHSRA project does not qualify for Prop. 1A HSR bond funds
  • Fresno-Bakersfield--Two counties, a city, two non-profits and a partnership challenge the project-level FEIR for this section of the HSR project (This case is currently on hold, awaiting California Supreme Court resolution of a conflict between two appellate decisions on the federal preemption of CEQA.)
  • ARB Scoping Plan Challenge--TRANSDEF sued the Air Resources Board for its inclusion of HSR as a GHG emissions reduction measure
  • Appeal of STB’s Order declaring that CEQA is entirely preempted for the HSR project
  • Caltrain Electrification EIR Challenge--TRANSDEF, Atherton and CC-HSR challenge the EIR’s failure to analyze the impacts of HSR on the Caltrain Corridor

Other HSR Plans
TRANSDEF recommends the
website of the California Rail Foundation for its thoughtful analyses of how an HSR system should be designed.
The Train Riders Association of California adopted a Resolution advocating
a Plan B for HSR in California.

TRANSDEF Opposed Proposition 1A, the California High-Speed Rail Bond Measure
The TRANSDEF Board adopted a position of opposition to the Proposition: TRANSDEF strongly supports High-Speed Rail, but feels the current California High-Speed Rail Authority Board and its staff cannot be trusted. Therefore, TRANSDEF opposes Proposition 1A. The President of TRANSDEF, David Schonbrunn, debated Quentin Kopp, the Chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, on October 22, 2008 on KALW-FM. A podcast is available here. (A broadband connection is needed to download this 27 Mb mp3 file.)

High-Speed Rail expert Joseph Vranich
testified in 2008 before the California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on the flaws of the High-Speed Rail Authority's proposal, and concluded "It's time to dissolve the California High-Speed Rail Authority." That recommendation is even more appropriate in 2014.

Here's a
podcast of a KGO-AM show about Prop. 1A. David Schonbrunn appears about 15 minutes in. (Note that there are several minutes of banter before the 1A segment starts).

An opinion piece by TRANSDEF’s President that ran in the Marin Independent Journal September 8, 2015:

Marin IJ OpEd 2015