To the editor: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has at last shown some common sense in expediting construction of the Burbank-Palmdale segment. On a project of this size and scope, it was always crucial to prioritize building segments that could provide useful transportation on their own while the rest of the system gets built. ("Building L.A. County segment would accelerate bullet train project," Editorial, July 6)
Equally important, this will reduce the number of diesel trains operating in the region. Even new, "clean" diesels emit pollutants and burn fossil fuels.
Now is the time to provide high-quality public transportation, not just for local journeys by subway and light rail but also longer regional trips.
Paul Dyson, Burbank
The writer is president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California and Nevada and chairman of the Burbank Transportation Commission.
To the editor: California would certainly benefit from having a passenger rail system that connected its major population centers. It does not necessarily need to be high speed, but it should be reasonably swift, safe, comfortable, clean, frequent, direct, reliable, cost-effective to build and affordable to ride without major subsidy.
Unfortunately, the politically engineered rail authority's project cannot achieve all of those objectives.
Sadly, we now watch The Times again rise to support this folly because local pork is disingenuously dangled for proposed early construction of a Palmdale-Burbank segment. This underscores the greater problem: blinkered provincial economic self-interest actually driving this program.
State lawmakers should beware of how a majority of their constituents will view their misallocation of precious cap-and-trade money in support of this abomination — one that ultimately cannot fail to fail.
Robert I. Schwartz, Thousand Oaks
To the editor: The bullet train that was originally conceived to take many of the roughly 6 million people annually flying between the Bay Area and Southern California out of the sky has become the latest commuter rail to the Antelope Valley.
California high-speed rail is becoming a bigger boondoggle than Boston's Big Dig, which spent about $15 billion putting a little more than three miles of elevated road underground.
The airlines and the freight railroads could be a major player in high-speed rail. Electrified rail would save on fuel costs and over the long term serve the growing intrastate market far more efficiently than air travel.
But a direct line from L.A. to the Bay Area, following the Interstate 5 corridor, is needed. This would have far less impact on private land, would be cost-efficient to attract private investment and, at less than three-hour travel times, would meet the expectations of voters who approved this project in 2008.