The Science of Sustainability

Discuss the "California's High Speed Rail" TV story

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A little-known state agency is drawing up a plan to radically reshape California's transportation system by constructing a 700-mile long high-speed rail system that would send sleek bullet trains whizzing at speeds of up to 220 mph from San Francisco to Los Angeles within a decade. The $37 billion idea is to stay ahead of airport and freeway gridlock as California's population grows by 500,000 people a year. But will voters in 2008 approve the funding? And how do you make a train go faster than a Ferrari?

Green Burials and California’s High Speed Rail (episode #104) airs tonight on QUEST at 7:30pm on KQED 9, and KQED HD, Comcast 709. (full schedule)

You may also view the entire California's High Speed Rail” story online.

Chris Bauer is a Segment Producer for television on QUEST, and is the producer for this story.

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Category: Engineering, Environment, Television

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Chris Bauer

About the Author ()

Chris Bauer is a Media Producer for QUEST. Chris has nearly 20 years experience working in broadcast television; producing sports, history, technology, science, environment and adventure related programming. He is a two-time winner of the international Society of Environmental Journalists Award for Outstanding Television Story and has received multiple Northern California Emmy Awards. Some of his Quest stories have been featured in the San Francisco Ocean Film Festival, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, United Nations Association Film Festival, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC. A 5th generation Bay Area resident and a graduate of St. Mary's College of California, his hobbies include canoeing, snowboarding, wood-working and trying to play the ukulele. He and his family live in San Francisco.
  • Emily

    I'm eagerly awaiting the day that California is connected by a hi-speed rail system. Provided that the ticket prices are inexpensive I (and many I know) would use it regularly.

  • Daniele Petrone

    This would be the single most important piece of infrastructure in our state's history. It would revolutionize transportation in California, feed into existing public transit systems, and stimulate sustainable, high density development at stations.

    Here's to a greener, more sustainable future of our great state. One of denser cities and clean, heavily used public transportation systems. One that does not rely on heavily polluting planes and cars.

    If you support the system contact your local legislator and encourage them to take action on this issue. Don't know who your legislator is or how to contact them? Go to http://www.legislature.ca.gov and type in your zip code at the bottom right. If it is passed this will change our state forever. VOICE YOUR SUPPORT!

  • Ken Niemi

    I strongly support high speed rail and am deeply frustrated that after more than 20 years of talk not one mile has yet been built in California.

    For the state to spend such an incredible amount of money on roof-top solar subsidies in an overheated market for solar equipment in order to be green but lag so far in high speed rail when we have one of the world's best markets for high speed rail given the distance from Northern to Southern California is shameful.

    The amount of pollution impacting health, congestion impacting the efficiency of the economy, and greenhouse gas emissions impacting life on the plant from jets and cars that travel from Northern to Southern California (with all of that pollution hitting Central California…you just cannot see anything when driving down I-5) is extremely significant.

    High speed rail is great from city center to city center BUT it must also connect to the major airports. You can fly nonstop from SFO or LAX to Frankfurt and then immediately hop on a high speed train to take you to any city center in Germany. High speed rail should go to both downtown LA and have the possibility of going down to LAX and Long Beach to serve the significant population destination of Santa Monica, west LA, Beverly Hills, Century City, San Fernando Valley, West Hollywood, Hollywood, and cities around Long Beach. Not everyone wants to go to "downtown" LA as it's not exactly the center of tourism in LA and then fight their way out to the western and southwestern areas where most people vacation when down there.

  • http://www.radiocamp.com Gregg McVicar

    We've been talking about this for so long, but I'm glad that there is still hope for this bright rail future. The high speed rail services in Europe are just astonishing! The French TGV is extremely fast, quiet, smooth and a most civilized way to travel. Meanwhile, 9/11 was the turning point for commuter air travel — because of security hassle, it will never be as convenient as it once was.

    Thank you for the fine coverage and we'll be looking forward to the bond next year.

  • Michael Williams

    If the European costs are any reflection as to what it costs to ride high speed rail you could expect to pay around $160 to $220, depending on travel class and time of travel, for a round trip for comparable distances between SF and LA.

    I've seen the rail advocates here for Calif. HSR talking a $45 round trip costs between SF and LA, which is fantasy costs as far as I figure.

  • http://non. Jeffrey L

    I strongly support this system. The completion of the SF-LA line may be as early as 2018 with SF to SJ opening prior to that date.

    This will really help Californians with their commute. What America needs is the first one to show. No one here knows the trued advantages of HSR unless they've been to Europe or Asia.

  • Chris Bauer

    The High-Speed Rail Authority announced yesterday that they have chosen (again) the Pacheco Pass as the route to speed trains between the Bay Area and Central Valley.

    To learn more, see: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/03/BAI91F7CUS.DTL#ixzz0yVDT2Ze0