Thursday, December 31, 2009

One day, I will be able to tweet underground: Metro to write RFP to install cell service in subway tunnels

Metro is looking to make it possible for people to use their cell phones underground, according to Steve Hymon at The Source, Metro's official blog.

Juan thinks this is super exciting. He could go on lengthy diatribes about how this upgrade further positions the system to meet the needs of working professionals (aka the transit choice rider), who would rather leave the driving to Metro while fiddling around on their smartphones during their commutes to work.

I, on the other hand, would like to take a moment to talk about how this could shape preferences for a particular cell phone provider around the region.

Right now, my closest friends in LA have split their allegiances amongst a number of providers: Juan is with T-Mobile; our friend Nurit is with AT&T; BeccaKlaus is on Verizon; and I'm sure somebody I know is on Sprint, except I probably don''t call them very often because they're not IN, as in, IN the Verizon network.

This is because I am IN. I have been a Verizon subscriber for the past six years. And it's certainly not because I love Verizon. Their customer service often leaves something to be desired, and their website is clunky. They charge what I consider an excessive premium to use a Blackberry, so I have stuck to using a phone once touted by the New York Times for its child-friendliness. (GPS? Check. Ability to restrict phone calls? Check twice.)

But Verizon's actual wireless service has been, in my experience, top-notch. With a Verizon phone, I was actually able to make phone calls while I was a student at Smith, which is located in semi-rural western Massachusetts; while I was working at a nerd camp site in a dense redwood forest; and, most importantly, while I was riding the subway in the DC-metro area.

That's right, Angelenos: Cell phone reception doesn't always have to die underground like it does right now in LA.

Out in the DC Metro area, Verizon subscribers have been able to use their phones underground for years (although this has recently been expanded to include three other providers.) This is one of the reasons why so many of my friends and contacts in the DC Metro area are also on Verizon. (Sprint subscribers with roaming-enabled phones could also use their phones underground, but who knows anyone on Sprint?) And because so many of my friends are on Verizon, I have been reticent to leave Verizon myself. Never mind that I don't really talk to people on the phone anymore. I just like having the security of knowing that I'll never get slammed with an egregious bill in case I need to have a marathon sob session with Lizzie G during the weekday hours of 6AM and 8:59PM.

So in conclusion, this whole prospect of an RFP going out to sniff out potential vendors has got me wondering. Who will win? Will underground subway service be limited to just vendor? If so, what criteria will be considered? And would this be enough to change a region's allegiance to a particular vendor, like it has out in DC?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Thin Red Line: A Review of Taylor, Kim, & Gahbauer

Brian Taylor, our esteemed professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and transportation finance expert, and John Gahbauer, our favorite transit geek and UCLA colleague, along with Eugene Kim, co-authored a paper on the history of transportation planning in the Wilshire Corridor in Los Angeles.  This is a review of their paper, which appears in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (requires subscription or library access).  I believe you can also visit the Metro Library to view a copy.

Taylor begins by discussing the tendency of politicians to pursue large capital projects in favor of incremental operational improvements.  The "monument" or "ribbon-cutting" effects of new capital projects have proven very attractive to politicians.  It's difficult to hold a photo-op in front of increased bus frequency, but much easier in front of a subway station:

Post-Measure R Victory Press Conference.

Most transit capital projects are subjected to cost-benefit analysis, but costs are often underestimated and benefits are almost universally overestimated.

These generalizations are present to varying degrees in the history of the Wilshire Subway.  Planning on what will eventually become the Wilshire Subway began in the 1970s, but encountered many hurdles along the way.  A giant hurdle was the 1980s prohibition of the use of federal funds to tunnel under Henry Waxman's district in Beverly Hills, which came after a methane deposit under a Ross store exploded and burned for several days.  Out of the political negotiations surrounding this ban came the present day Purple line stub at Wilshire & Western.  In order to circumvent this ban, planners proposed less cost-effective routes.  Taylor shows how these alternate routes, which were never seriously studied, were inferior to the proposed Wilshire route.

Proposed Southern route

Taylor argues that the Wilshire Route, along the "linear downtown," is one of the most transit-friendly corridors in the West.  With over 100,000 bus riders per day, traffic congestion, expensive parking, high residential density, high peak hour volumes, Wilshire Boulevard is likely the most cost-effective subway corridor in Southern California.  There are 7x more workers on the Wilshire foute than the southern alternative along San Vicente & Pico.  Later on, Taylor points out that just 3 of nearly a dozen lines which travel on Wilshire (18, 20, and 720) have a combined ridership of 90,033 per day, 1/3 more than the Gold, Green, and Orange lines combined (66,871 per day).

In 2005, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was elected.  A strong proponent of the subway, he negotiated with Waxman to lift the ban on tunneling, and took implicit responsibility for any incidents that may arise from tunneling under Wilshire.  Villaraigosa and other politicians pushed for Measure R, the voter approved 1/2 cent sales tax which will provide the funding for the first two segments of the subway.  Federal loans and grants could build more subway quicker.

The proposed 2009 route isn't much different from the 1979 route.

Taylor, Gahbauer, and Kim offer a great overview of the history of the Wilshire Subway in Los Angeles.  I learned a lot about the political tumult in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the power of one man, Waxman, to impact the urban form of a city for so many years.

Side Note: Monorails have been proposed along Wilshire for well over 100 years.  They've never been taken seriously, as aerial structures would severely disrupt the nature of the neighborhood.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from the LA Subway Blog!

Our Transit-Oriented Christmas Tree included a Metro 2 bus button; a Metro Rail cardboard car; a replica of a Metro Bus in California Poppy; a traffic cone, and a Dump the Pump stress toy from an old UCLA Transportation campaign.
And yes, John Gahbauer, that is an actual (heavy paper-stock) Metro Rail car on our Christmas tree.

The bigger question this Christmas:
John, quick: Make, model, year of manufacture of the rail car.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Juan and Sirinya make it to opening day of the Eastside Extension of the Gold Line

Hi everyone!

The Eastside Extension to the Metro Gold Line opened on Sunday to a LOT of fan fare. Juan and I were one of the 70,000 + people who checked out the festivities along the eight-stop extension. We actually went first to Chinatown to sample some dim sum, then trekked to Union Station, where we got off at several stations along the route to check things out.

Above: Soto Station, which has a bird theme. I'm too much a product of the LA public schools, as I can't tell you what kind of art theory informed this kind of... art (is it a bird? a plane? no, folks, it's just a light rail train.) Below: Crowded light rail car! Some people were probably sightseeing (especially the little kids who were suuuper excited and pointing to things out the window to their parents and siblings), and others (um, like the woman with sunglasses who was dozing off) were actually trying to get somewhere.

Metro did a fantastic job preparing its staff to serve as ambassadors and authorizing its staff to implement crowd control strategies. For instance, our return to Union Station via the Mariachi Plaza was slightly delayed, as Metro staff and security crew held us and probably two dozen other people up by the fare gates until the passengers waiting downstairs for trains departed. SMART!

Juan and I walked between the distance along 1st Street between Soto Station and Indiana Station in Boyle Heights. I suspect that the areas along the Eastside Extension will be the next to "gentrify", as the light rail line provides accessibility to the rest of the city and the housing stock - which includes many California bungalows and large boarding houses with intricate details - might be very appealing to the upwardly mobile.

This home is subdivided into four apartments and is near the northeast corner of 1st and Soto.

This recently-renovated Food-4-Less is located on 1st Street, between the Soto & Indiana Stations. I would not be shocked if its corporate owner decided to step up to its A-Game upon the opening of the Eastside Extension.

Good-bye to the bus line that shadowed the Eastside Extension route, effective 11-15-09.

As part of the mini-adventure, Juan and I got agua de limon from El Mercado, which was so darn sweet that it induced dehydration and a headache. But before the headaches kicked in, we also stopped by Mariachi Plaza. There was a huge street fair underway; I was able to get my Metro Gold Line swag (thankyouverymuch); and we listened to Jose Huizar make some comments. We also got tacos from Jim's. (In actuality, the tacos were nothing special - stuff thrown together haphazardly in a fast-food joint setting. I'll get back to you on the pastrami next time.)

The following day, I went on a VIP tour of the Eastside Extension, but I've had enough blogging for now so I'll save that for another day.

Ridership on the extension is expected to average 13,000 a day during the week. Here's hoping to the successful - and safe - launch of the newest extension of Metro Rail!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Blog is Under Construction

And we expect it to be done before 2036.

The LA Subway Blog is undergoing a site overhaul, so things are a work in progress.

A Subway Story: Short documentary on Wilshire Subway by Metro

Verdict: REALLY hokey, but gets the point across. Major stakeholders participated in the video to gush about the subway, including UCLA (see minute 6:00). They are identified by name. Yet we never learned the name of the actual actor.'s redesign has inspired an upcoming LASubwayBlog redesign

And that's what the new Metro site looked like when it was working. It's currently down. Luckily, Google Transit is still up.

I've been a big fan of the Beta site and I think that it will be a great change once the technical obstacles are out of the way.

Stay tuned in the coming days for some differences (hopefully improvements) in this site.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Subway meeting in Westwood/VA tonight

Tonight, the Metro Westside Subway Extension team is hosting its last gathering in this round of meetings. It'll be at the Wadsworth Theater on the north side of the VA between 6 and 8p.m. Bruins for Traffic Relief and some of my colleagues from UCLA Transportation will be attending. (I'll be there with Juan as laypeople.) This meeting will be kind of like a charette; after the presentation, we'll be divided into groups to provide feedback on a series of renderings of proposed station locations and designs.

So what's a charette?
A charette is a meeting format which brings together stakeholders to develop design solutions. It's commonly used in urban planning design. Some charettes bring people, including residents, developers, and municipal officials, together for several intense days of brainstorming on a potential design for an area.

Come back to the LA Subway Blog for a recap of tonight's events!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

Earlier this week, Juan came up with the brilliant idea of dressing up as an articulated 720 bus for Halloween.

=  Juan and Sirinya Dressed as a Bus

Personally, I thought it was so romantic. After all, we got to wear identical outfits (see pictures below) and found a slinky toy to symbolize the articulated part of the bus. Plus, Juan created a multimedia component to our costume: we had a portable speaker playing sounds from the bus on repeat throughout the night.

Juan and Sirinya on Layover

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Open Letter to the Metro Board

Honorable Metro Board Members:

Last night while waiting for the 720 bus at the busiest intersection in Los Angeles (Wilshire & Westwood), I conducted an informal study of vehicles passing in the curb lane. First, the roadway was so congested that over the 5-minute period I surveyed an average of 14 people per minute passed through that curb lane. Second, about a third of the vehicles with identifiable dealer plates came from Burbank or points east along the I-210 corridor (Longo in El Monte, Claremont Toyota, etc). Third, I then boarded a bus, which was much delayed due to the congestion, and counted 55 people aboard that bus. One slow, delayed 60-foot bus carried as many people as 4 minutes of traffic. Public transportation is essential to getting Los Angeles moving again and recouping some of the $10 billion lost annually due to traffic congestion.

The transportation reauthorization bill is likely to expand funding opportunities for transit, but future projects will be continue to be evaluated based on cost-benefit criteria. Two proposed projects serve as significant system-wide ridership multipliers to all projects connected to the network. These projects will increase the potential benefits of all future transit projects in Los Angeles County more than any project, proposed or conceived. These projects are the downtown regional connector and the subway. These projects will create a robust core transit network by providing quick reliable access to job centers and areas of dense population. All peripheral projects will benefit, and jump well ahead in the competition for federal funds as a result.

The benefits of both the Wilshire subway and regional connector will be both substantial and regional. To focus substantial efforts on building other projects before making substantial progress on these core projects is akin to building the second floor before the frame (it’s an important part of the house, but there is nothing yet to support it) and appears parochial and short sighted. I urge you to pass a Long Range Transportation Plan that reflects this reality.

Juan Matute
MBA, MA Urban Planning

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bruins for Traffic Relief LA County Fair Transit-Oriented Adventure

LA County Fair Transit-Oriented Adventure
Want to go to the LA County Fair? So do Sirinya and Juan, and they're inviting you along. Join them for a flexible transit oriented adventure this Saturday, September 26th. All the details and the RSVP are on Facebook.

Low Fares to the Fair
A Metrolink ticket gets you $2 off regular admission, so it's $15 per person instead of $17.
Fourpacks of Metrolink tickets are $29, that saves you $15 per 4 people. More info

Many Travel Options
Trains Leave Union Station at 7:00a, 9:00a, 10:40a, 11:50a, 1:20p, 3:25p, 4:45p, 6:15p, 9:00p, 11:30p
Trains Return to Union Station from the fairplex at 11:43a, 1:13p, 2:18p, 3:28p, 4:48p, 7:48p, 9:58p
You can go whenever you want, stay as long as you want, and leave whenever you want. Juan and Sirinya will be on the trains in bold. If you want to travel with us, please be at the station 15 minutes in advance of the scheduled departure.

Don't know how to get to Union Station? Use Google Transit! Best of all, it's only $1.25 on Metro, and $1.75 on BBB 10 (from Santa Monica).

What's There at the Fair?
Entertainment, horse racing, shopping, exhibits. Fried everything. See for yourself at
Fair is Open 10am to Midnight on Saturday

Follow @BTRUCLA on twitter for updates in advance of the event and on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wilshire Bus Only Lanes: The Above-Ground Subway to the Sea

The LA City Council voted to move ahead with the EIR for the LA City Wilshire Bus Only Lanes (Streetsblog Reports). This project would improve transit travel times in the Wilshire Corridor. You could think of it as the low cost peak-hour above-ground subway (that runs in mixed traffic through Beverly Hills and Santa Monica).

Paul Koretz from CD 5 has taken a page from David Vahedi's playbook and bowed to Westwood Wilshire Corridor Condo interests (some of which fear change and the realization that they don't live on a two-lane back country road) in expressing skepticism over the project. Paul is a 25-year member of the Sierra Club and surely is aware of the positive environmental implications of improving transit service using natural-gas fueled buses. While localized environmental concerns should be studied in any project, I suspect the Corridor Condo interests will seek to use the CEQA/NEPA process to derail any attempt to change the pastoral nature of their homestead, even if it provides a street buffer that only professionally-trained drivers will have access to. The regional environmental implications of improving transit service will be favorable.

Schedule permitting, Sirinya and I will be at the Westwood meeting.

Here's the latest from Metro:
Metro, the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County are considering the feasibility of implementing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project on Wilshire Boulevard. This joint effort will be evaluated through the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA).

The EIR/EA, which will be prepared in compliance with State and Federal environmental requirements, will examine the potential for dedicated curbside bus lanes during the morning and evening rush hours along Wilshire Boulevard, from just west of the I-110 freeway to the Santa Monica city line, excluding the City of Beverly Hills.

These same three agencies began evaluating the proposed Wilshire BRT Project in November 2008 as part of preparing an Initial Study/Environmental Assessment (IS/EA). An EIR/EA is now being prepared as a consequence of input received at several community meetings held along the corridor at that time, additional public input, and technical analyses that have been conducted.

Please join us at any of the four (4) scoping meetings to learn more about the Proposed Project and Project Alternatives. These meetings will provide the public the opportunity to comment on the project and any potential effects of the project that should be considered in the Draft EIR/EA. The content presented at these four meetings will be identical, so please make sure to attend at the time and location most convenient for you.

Monday, October 5, 6:00 – 8 pm
Felicia Mahood Senior Center
11338 Santa Monica Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Wednesday, October 7, 6:00 – 8 pm
Wilshire United Methodist Church
4350 Wilshire Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Thursday, October 8, 6:00 – 8 pm
Westwood Presbyterian Church
10822 Wilshire Bl
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tuesday, October 13, 6:00 – 8 pm
Good Samaritan Hospital, Moseley-Salvatori Conference Center
637 Lucas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017

All meeting locations are accessible by public transit. Please go to to plan your trip. Parking is also available. Garage parking at Good Samaritan is not validated and costs $8.

For additional information or questions, please visit the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit EIR/EA website at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LA Streetsblog's editor going on paternity leave; check out guest editors!

Mark your calendars: Guest editors will begin covering for Damien Newton, the primary editor of LA Streetsblog, a great transportation & land use blog, when he goes on paternity leave later this month.
Yours truly works 40 hours (or more), so I couldn't fill in. But mark your calendars for October 5 & 6th: my friend Angela Serratore, a fellow Smithie, will be the guest editor for those two days.

Why should you read?
1)For starters, Angela is wicked funny. (You can see on her own tongue-in-cheek blog, Overpaid and Underworked.)

2) Angela walks the talk: car-free in the Valley (she lives with her dad, but has not touched the steering wheel of her dad's Prius since moving back three months ago); devoted to Google Transit, buses, Metrolink Trains, DASH buses, and walking.

3) Angela has a multi-faceted understanding of the connections between transportation and land use through her coursework and professional experience in urban design and historical preservation. And she's read up on parking after she sat in on a Shoup-dogg lecture with me a few years ago.

3a) Maybe there will be interviews with cool UCLA transportation geeks too...

Yet Angela herself is not a transportation geek - far from it. For her, living without a car is simply a fact of life. Her willingness to do things that are accessible without a car also makes it so much easier for me to hang out with her too. (See this link for a blog entry by Car Free With Kids that talks about the complexity of socializing with friends in the suburbs.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

UCLA Speaker Series to discuss how local transportation policy can affect climate change

The UCLA Program on Local Government Climate Action Policies and Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies proudly present the fall speaker series: Perspectives on Local Climate Planning. In this series leading academics, policymakers, and practitioners discuss how cities, counties, and regions can meet the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change.While much attention is focused on the federal American Clean Energy and Security Act and the international UNFCCC meeting in Copenhagen, we will examine what can be done at the local level to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.

Mondays at 2pm in the UCLA School of Public Affairs Room 1246. (directions: driving, bus)

Free and open to the public. Please RSVP.

Monday, October 5 - Katherine Trisolini, Professor, Loyola Law School, and local government climate change response legal scholar will discuss the legal and political context for local climate action

Monday, October 12 – J.R. DeShazo, Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, will discuss his recent study of California Climate Action Policies.

Monday, October 19 - Richard Katz, Member, CARB SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee, Metro Board Member, and 16-year California Assembly veteran, will talk about SB 375 regional targets.

Monday, October 26 - Michael Woo, Member, CARB SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee and Los Angeles City Planning Commissioner will talk about the future of development.

Monday, November 2nd - Tim Kohut, AIA and LEED AP, Vice President and Director of Architecture of Abode Communities speaks about challenges to building green affordable housing.

Monday, November 9th – Juan Matute, Director of the UCLA Program on Local Government Climate Action Policies will speak about measuring greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Monday, November 16th - Kathryn Phillips, Environmental Defense Fund Director, will talk about "10 Ways Local governments Can and Have Reduced their Transportation GHG Footprint"

Monday, November 23rd - Matthew Kahn, UCLA Professor and author of Green Cities will share his research on residential energy use.

feel free to distribute widely, we have secured a large capacity room for the speaker series

See the Program on Local Government Climate Action Policies Web site for more information.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Suuper excited about progressive parking plan adopted by City of Santa Monica

I didn't realize I was listening to the equivalent of a revolution in parking pricing when I tuned into KCRW on Monday night.

On Tuesday night, the city council for the City of Santa Monica voted 6 to 1 to approve what amounts to a Shoupistic approach to parking pricing in its downtown parking garages. The biggest change: Free parking in the garages will be available for just one hour, not to penalize visitors but rather to deter downtown employees from moving their cars every two hours to get "free" parking.

At the bus stop in downtown Santa Monica yesterday, a Valley-based filmmaker named Juan Fernando (his real first two names) confirmed that this really happens. Furthermore, he also added that the employee shuffle creates congestion and is a huge hassle because it takes more time than necessary to enter and exit the garage.

Fair enough.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

RIP La Asadero Victoria in Van Nuys

I know this is supposed to be a subway-oriented blog. But I needed to take a moment to mourn the loss of one of my neighborhood's community assets. It was a hole-in-the-wall named La Asadero Victoria.

La Asadero Victoria was adjacent to a store that sold used Levis and another store that sold gaudy tchotkes for little girls imported from China. The best thing about La Asadero Victoria was the spit they pulled out into the parking lot every Friday and Saturday night, which they used to slowly cook and marinate carne asada and pastor for tacos and burritos. They were delicious.

Over the past six months, Juan and I introduced many friends and our families to the amazing food they served there and had many great evenings there. The people who ran the restaurant were kind and attentive. La Asadero Victoria was exactly the kind of place that Juan and I tried hard to patronize because it was locally owned and near our homes.

Restaurants have a high fail rate (fewer than 50% that open each year survive into year 2). But I still feel a little bummed that La Asadero Victoria is no longer. I'm sure there are many more places to sample in Valley Glen & Van Nuys, but so far La Asadero Victoria was one of the best, really, in all of LA.

Hello and Goodbye (RIP) to small busineses in Westwood

Westwood Village is near and dear to my heart. After all, Juan and I still work at UCLA and he and I both lived in UCLA's Weyburn Terrace for two years. Depending on our schedules, Wednesday or Thursday night is date night for us, and we often try to patronize businesses inside Westwood Village. Most recently, he and I went to Noodle Planet and Yogurtland. We also like to walk around and see what is going on inside the Village.

Some of what we saw last week:

COMING SOON: There has been a sign posted for Fat Dogs for quite awhile, by the southeast corner of Weyburn & Broxton. Fat Dogs is located inside Stan's Donuts and it replaces an establishment named Sweet Pepper Grill. Fat Dogs isn't open yet, but I'm sure Juan and I will eat there when it does.

WELCOME, albeit temporarily: The old Rite-Aid at Westwood & Kinross will now be selling Halloween costumes. (Could it be open already?) There is now competition for Aahs across the street.

SOME CHANGES: Thank You Mart on Westwood Boulevard has changed its pricing structure. Previously, everything inside the store was $3.99. Now, the first two items are $5.99; but if you buy three items, they will cost you $3.99, or about $12 total + tax.

RIP: Good Choice Gift on Westwood Boulevard. A fine place to buy random tchotkes, like hair accessories and Sanrio bags.

Note: EAZY Wireless is also no longer with us in the Village.

Monday, August 24, 2009

UK High Speed Rail CO2 Study Flawed

Juan's note: I'm crossposting this from my new blog:

Because I was unsure of the findings, I spent some time looking at the Booz Allen Hamilton/Department for Transport High Speed Rail Study (Estimated Carbon Impact of a New North-South Line) mentioned in a Freakonomics Blog Post.

First, I went to look at the source documents. This was a bit difficult, because footnote xii is actually a link to the AEA study source document. None of the links on footnote x, which is supposedly the AEA study, lead to any usable data for this study.

Looking at the AEA study for DfT, I'm able to see how they got the AEA figures. 49 for average passenger rail, 109 for all cars, 76 for bus, 180 for plane. However, they leave out the Class 373 EMU(high speed rail train).

I was unsuccessful in searching for the June 2007 DEFRA statistics released in the study, but I did find the updated 2009 statistics. Each year, DEFRA (UK's EPA) publishes statistics that they have businesses use to calculate their scope 3 (indirect) emissions from rail travel. This study shows a figure of 17 g/pkm for Eurostar, specifically the high speed rail route between London and Paris. This figure could be a bit low, because France derives a high proportion of their energy from a non-ghg-emitting source (nuclear).

Taxi, Bus, Rail and Ferry Passenger Transport Conversion Factors


Method of travel

Vehicle kms travelled (vkm)


kg CO2 per vkm

Total kg CO2

Taxi 1

Regular taxi



Black cab



Method of travel

Passenger kms travelled (pkm)


kg CO2 per pkm

Total kg CO2

Taxi 1

Regular taxi



Black cab




Local bus 2



London bus 3



Average bus



Coach 4



Average bus and coach




National rail 5



International rail (Eurostar) 6



Light rail and tram 7



London Underground 8



Ferry (Large RoPax) 9

Foot passengers



Car passengers



Average (all passengers)





Looking at the Center for Neighborhood Technology study's figure for the Danish IC3 Diesel Multiple-Train Unit and converting lb/pmi to g/pkm, I get 72.71, which is the same (73 g/pkm) as the study.However, the IC3 is diesel-powered conventional rail train capable of a top service speed of 112 mph, not a high speed rail train. Better comparables would be the ICE line 6 in Germany or the TGV in France, which have lower g/pkm emissions.

At this point I was left wondering if the report's authors meant to analyze the impact of a mid-speed diesel powered train line instead of a high speed line. Although the report was light on specifics, the authors did mention that they meant to analyze the effects of efficiency gains in "traction electricity," although this may refer to maglev. They could have also assumed much lower load factors for these routes, although they did not state this in their assumptions.

Needless to say, I'm convinced that the study is flawed.

However, assuming it is not flawed, the energy mix still differs from region to region (different power pools have different generation and emissions profiles). I found the UK-wide electricity emissions-factor on DEFRA's site, which is 546.67 kG of CO2 per mWh. Using the EPA's eGRID data for the California region, I converted lbs/kWh to 398.57 kG of CO2 per mWh. So, California's electricity results in about 73% of the emissions in the UK, per unit of delivered electricity.






California, from eGRID



So, even if the report was correct, and high speed rail emissions in the UK would emit 88 g/pkm (which I highly doubt), the equivalent technology would only emit 64 g/pkm operating in California.