Hollywood-Style Rail Pander

Hollywood-Style Rail Pander

Katy Grimes: In the OMG category, I caught a 30 second commercial tonight on a local Sacramento television channel that asked, “Wanna go to the Grammys? Get your creative juices flowing and create a 30 second commercial about the excitement and anticipation of the future of rail travel. Just grab your camera and shoot and edit. And you could be on your way to the Grammys.”

The “excitement and anticipation of the future of rail travel?” Really?

Good Day Sacramento was the sponsor of this disgusting, pandering, advertisement for High-Speed Rail in California. The print version ad asks for contestants to create a 30-second music video about train travel using the theme, “Where will your ticket take you?” The commercial video is HERE.

Are they kidding? Who is paying for this publicly funded enterprise? And what a cheapo way to get desperately-seeking rock stars to do the commercials for publicly-funded rail travel for free.

The official rules say that the contest is sponsored by the  San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and the ACE Train, also known as the Altamont Commuter Express train. The daily commuter train has 3,700 riders.

3,700 riders?

The Altamont Commuter Express, managed by San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, with operations contracted to Herzog Transit Services, (founded in 1993, right before rail agencies were created in many states) currently provides commuter rail service between Stockton and San Jose and apparently takes “2 hours and 10 minutes end-to-end,” with eight stops. Really? A train commute between Stockton to San Jose takes two hours? This is Northern California, not Los Angeles – we can drive to so many locations in the North state within one hour easily, and with very little traffic.

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority was created in 1996.

High-Speed Rail Contracts

“On August 19, 2011, Caltrain announced a staff recommendation to sign a five-year, $62.5 million contract with Missouri based TransitAmerica Services, a subsidiary of Herzog Transit Systems, after taking proposals from three other firms, including Amtrak, which has provided operating employees since 1992, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

But the motivation is more complex. With public approval by California voters in the toilet for High Speed Rail, and the Fresno to Bakersfield segment under intense public scrutiny, it appears that the  Altamont train advocates are hoping for a shot of the Proposition 1A public funding for the existing rail system. But, there is no way that this segment could be “high-speed.” And, there is already an existing train system. Why build a new one right now?

As mandated by Proposition 1A, the California High Speed Rail Authority is beginning the  process of studying the Altamont Corridor alignment. Have a look at their announcement newsletter for details. “The project corridor is defined as San José to Stockton, with a possible spur to Modesto.”

The census of 2010 claimed that Stockton had 291,707 residents; San Jose had 945,942.  And the train between the two cities of 1.3 million people has 3,700 riders?

Altamont Express train revenues “as of 2006-07 generated $4 million, about 30% of the $13.3 million operating and administrative cost. That breaks down to $3,513 per rider, $270 per month, if there are really 3,700 riders.” And, they are upside down $9 million. The riders, the shortfall and the costs don’t add up.

The inside baseball story is that this train line has been a failure since the Dot.com crash in Silicon Valley. The rail line ostensibly was created to handle the commuters into Silicon Valley during the boon. But once Silicon Valley crashed, there were not nearly the number of daily commuters traveling between San Jose and Stockton as planned – and it hasn’t rebooted.

Grammy Connection

The advertisement for the Grammy awards show is really interesting. The tags on the advertisement are, high speed railCBSGrammy Award TrainscontestawardsHSR and BART. It would be interesting if any of the links directed you to the correct sites – instead they take you to “youtube” sites advertising each of the subjects.

Could this be a scam?

You can read all about this contest on the Altamont Commuter Express Facebook page  but is the page maintained by public employees? 

Is this what our California public agencies are now using taxpayer funds for? I am still researching which Public Relations firm(s) is pushing this deceptive campaign. The roots run deeply when it comes to rail and High-Speed Rail contracts.

Side note: Apparently there is a problem with onboard Wifi – “They are currently testing their on-board Wi-Fi internet service and hope to get it restored soon.” How sophisticated. But they want a free commercial, and will probably get plenty from Hollywood-wanna be saps.

JAN. 24, 2012


Write a comment
  1. David H
    David H 25 January, 2012, 11:10

    I believe eventually travel will be restricted. If you want to travel outside your designated area you will have to go on approved methods, and your paperwork will be required. I know that sounds wild right now, but I can share why I believe this, if interested.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 25 January, 2012, 16:03

    David – I am interested.

    – Katy

    Reply this comment
  3. David H
    David H 25 January, 2012, 21:25

    Ok Katy, you asked for it ;-/

    It’s my opinion, I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet so you can rest assured that I do not have any special insight. But here’s my reasoning.

    1) I was in Hawaii on Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks we could not get off the islands for over a week. You had to be authorized to leave sooner.

    2) I saw what happened and read eye witness testimony about people who tried to get out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and could not, all lines of travel were closed up, including roads.

    3) I have read about what happened in Russia just as communism was taking over, all the main roads contained checkpoints, and travel was prohibited out of specific areas without permission. I have read personal testimonies of several family’s who narrowly escaped to China, some on horse, others on foot. I believe the same kind of things happened in Germany when the Third Reich came to power.

    4) Environmentalism seems to be trying to get us out of our cars, off the land, and into the cities. Walking, riding a bike, public transit. I have talked with many of these people and they think that they are doing the right thing to save us. As the saying goes, scratch the green and there is red underneath.

    5) And last but not the least. These testimonies were written by a woman around 100 or more years ago, and I believe she was given prophetic insight. I could not find all the quotes I was looking for, but notice the illusion to our way being “hedging up.”

    “The words were spoken to me with impelling power: Wake up the
    watchmen to carry the word of warning to every city in America. Build
    up the waste places. The righteous judgments of God, with their weight
    of final decision, are coming upon the land. Do not hover over the
    churches to repeat over and over again the same truths to the people,
    while the cities are left in ignorance and sin, unwarned and unlabored
    for. Soon the way will be hedged up and these cities will be closed to
    the gospel message. Wake up the church members that they may unite in
    doing a definite and self-denying work.”

    “The passage from place to place to spread the truth will soon be
    hedged with dangers on the right hand and on the left. Everything will
    be placed to obstruct our way, so we shall not be able to do that which
    is possible now.” “We must look our work fairly in the face, and
    advance as fast as possible in aggressive warfare. . . . We have
    warnings now which we may give, a work now which we may do, but soon it
    will be more difficult than we can imagine.”

    Reply this comment

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