Cruickshank, Robert


Robert Cruickshank writes on California politics at Calitics.com. You can follow him on Twitter @cruickshank.

Texas HSR Could Face Same Challenges as California HSR

By Robert Cruickshank

In recent days there’s been a spate of posts and articles touting the Texas high speed rail project as a better approach than the California project. Some of this is undoubtedly the California-Texas rivalry at work, but it’s also fueled by the routine misunderstanding in the media about the nature of California HSR’s problems. Those problems exist solely because opponents of California HSR found powerful allies in the Congressional Republicans, and have been able to block future funding and create a cascading set of problems that stem from that denial.

Majority of Californians Support High Speed Rail Project

By Robert Cruickshank

Great news from the Public Policy Institute of California, which has a new poll out on various political issues in California. The poll shows that a clear majority of Californians continue to support high speed rail:

Jerry Brown Defends Use of Cap-and-Trade Funds for HSR

By Robert Cruickshank

The Sacramento Bee ran into Jerry Brown as he filed papers for his fourth campaign for governor, and asked him about funds for the high speed rail project:

Right now my main focus is the litigation in the 3rd Court of Appeals, I’m hopeful we will get that resolved quickly. And yes, in addition to the bond issues, the sources of funding have been one of the greatest questions of the critics, and I think cap-and-trade is very appropriate, because high speed rail reduces greenhouse gases [Brown emphasized that point], there’s no question about that, it’s much cheaper than building more freeways, or attempting to build more runways. So from an environmental and fiscal point of view, or even from a convenience point of view, given the fact that we have a number of people who are aging, and I hope to be one of those people over the next 20 years, it’ll be a lot better to be sitting on a high speed passenger rail than sitting behind a wheel trying to weave your way down I-5 or 99.

State Building Trades Urges Legislature to Fund HSR

By Robert Cruickshank

The Tea Party (and their newest friend, Gavin Newsom) may be continuing their war against high speed rail. But California’s labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, remain deeply supportive of the project. Robbie Hunter of the State Building and Construction Trades Council explains why:

Why HSR Is a Good Use of Cap-and-Trade Funds

By Robert Cruickshank

News that Governor Jerry Brown is planning to spend $250 million this year on high speed rail from cap-and-trade funds, presumably the floor for an annual amount of funding from that source, should be welcomed by California environmentalists and everyone concerned about climate change. But there are some strange criticisms being made:

Fight Over Google Buses Shows Need For Statewide Rail Funding Plan

By Robert Cruickshank

A battle that has been simmering for years finally exploded into the open Monday in San Francisco, where protestors blocked one of Google’s private buses that carries workers from their homes in the Mission to Google HQ in Mountain View. Protestors charged that Google was contributing to a two-tier transportation system in the Bay Area, where tech workers get free express bus service whereas everyone else has to make do with transit systems like Muni, BART and Caltrain that are increasingly struggling to meet soaring demand.

The Importance of Maintaining Long Distance Passenger Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

Another year, another Congressional Republican attack on Amtrak’s popular long distance rail service.

This time California Republican Jeff Denham is among those seeking to shut down the high ridership service:

In a May hearing, Rep. Jeff Denham, a California Republican and chairman of the railroads subcommittee in the House of Representatives, noted that Amtrak’s long-distance routes lost a combined $600 million in 2012.

“We simply cannot afford to continue these levels of subsidized losses year after year,” Denham said.

Traffic Impact May Get Some Reform Under Smaller CEQA Bill

By Robert Cruickshank

One of the dramas at the end of the legislative session last week involved the fate of reform to the California Environmental Quality Act. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg substituted a new bill, SB 743, for his original CEQA reform bill, SB 731. SB 743 is designed to speed approval and construction of a new arena for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, but it does open the door to a badly-needed reform of one of the worst aspects of CEQA – the rules requiring projects to be evaluated for their impact on the “level of service” (LOS) of roads.

HSR Opponents' Audit Request Denied

Author Robert CruickshankBy Robert Cruickshank

Earlier this month two Republican Assemblymembers requested an audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s land acquisition process in the Central Valley. As expected, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee denied their request last Thursday:

Assemblymen Jim Patterson, of Fresno, and Frank Bigelow, of O’Neals, said they feared Central Valley landowners were being treated unfairly as the California High-Speed Rail Authority moves to acquire land for the project.

How the Republican Anti-HSR Trap Works

Robert CruickshankBy Robert Cruickshank

The Merced Sun-Star lays out the current state of high speed rail politics in Congress, which is the same as it’s been since January 2011 – Republicans hate HSR and are doing everything in their power to kill it. What’s new are not the specific ways they are trying to kill it, but the rhetoric they are using. Central Valley Republicans, stung by unusually strong criticism of their anti-HSR actions by Valley institutions and newspapers, are trying to shift the blame onto the HSR project.