Rod Diridon, a member of the High Speed Rail board who helped to create the failed VTA light rail system, also helped kill High Speed Rail by selecting the Pacheco Pass route between the Bay Area and the Central Valley.
For now, there's no money or matching funds for High Speed Rail unless the High Speed Rail bond passes next November. Pacheco Pass supporters like Gavin Newsom say the selection of this alignment would allow the project would move forward. However, it would be delusional for people like him to think that they would get a united front to get voters to successfully pass the high speed rail bond.
Environmental groups have already expressed their opposition against the Pacheco Pass due to the environmental harm that would occur along that alignment. Cities along the northern part of Central Valley wanted the Altamont Pass that would serve their growing population. A selection of Pacheco Pass essentially is a slap on their face. Why would they campaign for something that they don't like, if they have not decided to campaign against the HSR bond altogether in light of that decision?
Pacheco Pass supporters argued that it provides the quickest travel time between the Bay Area and Southern California, which is only true between San Jose and Los Angeles, and the difference between the two alignments for San Jose is 10 minutes.
Pacheco Pass supporters also claimed that HSR is only supposed to provide transportation between Northern California and Southern California. This idea is delusional at best and dangerous at worst. Currently, airlines such as Southwest already provide a quick a affordable transportation option between the Bay Area and southern california. Why should billions of tax dollars go build something just to compete with the private sector? On the other hand, a well designed high speed rail can carry regional rail traffic, similar to the freeway carrying intercity passenger and cargo, as well as regional commute traffic. The ability of HSR carrying regional rail traffic would also attract votes because it would provide more benefits to more people who travel across regions everyday. In addition, HSR over the Altamont Pass would provide a new regional rail option between Stockton and San Jose without the BART extension.
Is it because HSR over the Altamont Pass would make the San Jose BART extension redundent the reason why Rod Diridon is so against Altamont Pass? If you look back history, Rod Diridon has a lot of undeserved credit related to the establishment and design of the light rail system. Diridon is one of the main reasons why our transit isn't working now and won't be.
Can Diridon and SVLG pass the HSR bond without the support of the environmental and rail advocacy community, who would otherwise be an natural ally? The well funded opposition is ready to campaign against any form of HSR and has already kill HSR in other states like Texas and Florida. In California, propositions to increase oil and cigarette taxes, despite their initial strong voter support, failed to pass all because of well funded opposition campaign.
It would be a great loss of opportunity to have a well designed HSR system that would transform the state, all because of Rod Diridon's boneheaded opposition to the Altamont Pass and giving up strong support from the environmental community.