High-Speed Rail Unlocks Intermodal Potential

In ten years, increased VTA light-rail traffic will flow through the system as San Jose continues to grow. VTA Transportation Planner Jason Tyree described how light-rail will be supplemented with advanced bus-rapid transit that will rapidly move people with modern features such as level boarding, automated fare handling, signal prioritization, and potentially dedicated lane sections. The 60-foot buses will be hybrid diesel.

People from the East Bay area may connect to the station via an extension to BART. Feeding off BART will be AC Transit’s ultramodern buses including its expanded fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses.

The Diridon Station ten-years from now could well have zero-emission electric bus shuttles from the nearby airport or even a more advanced people-mover service. Preferred car parking at the station is likely to be for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. San Jose, home to advanced vehicle and technology companies like Tesla, is committed to an extensive city-wide vehicle charging infrastructure.

Although many electric vehicles are criticized for only having less than 100 mile in range per battery charge, such range is good for several days when combined with effective public transportation systems. Another way to cover the last miles to and from home and work is the good old bicycle. Bicycle boarding will be permitted on high-speed rail and the other public transportation systems.

As cities are connected with high-speed rail, similar multimodal systems will also be connected in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, and other major cities in this state of 40 million people; soon to be 50 million people.

The new high-speed rail and the light-rail transit systems use electricity not petroleum. Electric rail is many times more efficient than diesel engine drive systems. In ten years, by law 33 percent of the electricity will be from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal. In 20 years, especially with the benefit of California’s new cap-and-trade of greenhouse gases, renewable energy is likely to be less expensive than natural gas and nuclear, with coal already being phased out in California. In other words, the high growth part of California transportation is likely to be zero-emission providing significant relief in emissions and energy security.

Combining improved multimodal transportation with high-speed rail with renewable energy is bringing climate solutions just in time. California’s busy Highway 101, which stretches over 800 miles and which carries millions daily, will find major sections under water if the sea rises only 16 inches.

As leading delegates from 175 nations now meet to discuss climate solutionsΒ  scientist agree that global warming is accelerating and the artic ice cap is disappearing.

The multimodal transportation that serves millions of Americans is experiencing record use and provides the foundation for a more promising future.

John Addison is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet.

  1. Rafael

    Tesla Motors is headquartered in San Carlos, not San Jose.

    While you mention bicycles, you do so only in passing. That is a mistake IMHO, as electric cars will be expensive to purchase. There’s a good argument of promoting electric bicycles, especially folding types. So far, only a very few models are available in the US, some consisting of expensive add-on kits. Given California’s reliably good weather and reliably bad air quality problems in the summer months, stowing your personal folding electric bike underneath the seat(s) of a train – commuter or long-distance – is a useful if novel concept.

    What’s missing is a commitment to raise gas taxes and build dense networks of bike lanes/paths. The Dutch and Danish have the right idea, though they also have the advantage of flat terrain. It’s common to see businessmen in suit and tie biking to work there. Electric assist makes hill climbs much less strenuous, even in e.g. San Francisco. It’s time to remember that bicycles represent a highly desirable mode of short-distance transportation, not just a form of exercise on the weekend.

  2. Marty Dougherty

    I’ve been a strong supporter for high speed rail transit for years and can not understand why corporate America has not taken the high road in leading the way for the future with this technology. I was deeply disappointed in Florida when Gov. Jebb Bush fought two times to kill the approval by voters for high speed rail transit in Florida. Florida would have had the system up and running between Miami and Orlando has the governor follwed the approval of the voter.

    I knew when California visited France last some time back that high speed rail transit was going to be first in California. I have no problem with that but would like to see additions put to high speed rail transit where water, electricity, natural gas and other elements would be added to the system of transportation.

    Take water for example, if you added a specific piping system, water could be transported to area around California that have inadequate supplies from areas that have had excessive rainfalls. If you do this on a national system, you resolve water problems for some areas and relieve them for others going through a drought. I’m sure the farming areas would appreciate this water in drought periods and not mind a specific charge when run by a private company, like a private water company.

    Going back to high speed rail transit, regional transportation would be reduced for flying (making the skies safer) increase vacation to surrounding areas with high speed access on both ends of the route. It also has a bit of employment opprtunities for the areas where the rapid transit would drop off transait riders with retail operations that are under utilized. It’s a win-win situation all around.

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