High Speed Rail Under Attack

Longtime local pol-turned-mass-transit-fanboy Rod Diridon suddenly has a fight on his hands. His pet project, the California High Speed Rail Authority, has come under attack from U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis, soon-to-be head of the House Appropriations Committee. It’s not that Lewis doesn’t like trains—this is purely political gamesmanship.

The fast-train project, which is slated to turn San Jose’s Diridon Station into a futuristic mass-transit depot by the end of the decade, would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles at a cost of some $43 billion, and result in upward of 100,000 jobs. It’s the biggest public works project in the nation, and a centerpiece of Pres. Barack Obama’s back-to-work stimulus program. Lewis has threatened to pull $2 billion in already-dedicated money from High Speed Rail with his ballyhooed American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescission Act—a mirror image of the health-care repeal planned in other corners of the House.

Diridon, who sits on the High Speed Rail board, also helped finagle $2 billion in matching state funds for the project—money that would vanish if the federal money dries up.

Coincidentally, Lewis came under attack this week from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch for his “unapologetic advocacy and abuse of earmarks.” The group says he steered hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of federal projects to family and friends in exchange for campaign contributions.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

51 Comments

  1. Anyone who is paying attention to the pushback against high speed rail knows that there’s much, much more than “political gamesmanship.”

    Have a look at the “high speed boondoggle” website:
    http://highspeedboondoggle.com/about.php

    They list some good, objective reasons to be skeptical of the high-speed rail project. The sources cited can not be called right-wing.

    HSR Boondoggle cites the following:

    Mismanagement

    In April 2010, the State Auditor released a report stating the High Speed Rail Authority risked delay or an incomplete system due to “inadequate planning, weak oversight, and lax contract management.” To read more, click here:

    http://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2009-106

    In January 2010, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office told legislators the Authority’s business plan lacked sufficient details, inadequately addressed funding and market risks and that it’s timeline was “uninformative.” It also said it’s funding plan appeared to violate the law. To read more, click here:

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/handouts/transportation/2010/2009_High_Speed_Rail_01_12_10.pdf

    To view a short YouTube video in which State Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, a supporter of High Speed Rail “Done Right,” expresses his continued frustration with Authority’s lack of responsiveness in addressing issues raised by the State Auditor, the Legislative Analyst’s Office and other non-partisan organizations, click here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/derailhsr#p/a/u/0/ojh2qYa2fmU
    Flawed ridership projections

    Ridership is the key to profitability. Yet a UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies report says the data used by bullet-train planners is so “unreliable” that it is impossible to predict whether the project will be successful or lead to “severe revenue shortfalls.”

    To view the study, click here:

    http://www.its.berkeley.edu/publications/UCB/2010/RR/UCB-ITS-RR-2010-1.pdf

    To view a short YouTube video of testimony by Elizabeth Alexis of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD) to the California Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing in which she criticizes the quality of the High Speed Rail Authority’s ridership study, click here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3RCe0ytjPE
    Credibility

    The Authority told the media in July 2010 that a survey it commissioned showed 76 percent of Californians supported High Speed Rail and that 34 percent would like the project to move forward as quickly as possible. The Authority did not release the actual questionnaire to watchdog groups until more than a month later. After reviewing the questionnaire, they found only 21 percent out of the 1206 people surveyed said it’s a high priority; the remaining were either medium supporters or low supporters. Even among the subset of respondents deemed “CHSR Favorables”, only 35% rated the project a high priority.

    The questionnaire also showed:

      * 75 percent of Californians have concerns about how HSR will impact nearby homes and schools
      * 72 percent of Californians have concerns about how HSR will impact the environment, including land, water and wildlife
      * 61 percent of Californians have concerns about how HSR will impact small businesses adjacent to the rail line.

    To read the Authority’s press release, click here

    Survey Finds Strong Support for High Speed Rail (PDF)

    To read an article about the questionnaire, click here

    http://www.examiner.com/transportation-policy-in-san-francisco/california-high-speed-rail-survey-says-hsr-is-not-a-priority-for-most

    Do you remember that High Speed Rail sounded like a good idea when you voted for Prop1A in 2008? Many of us thought so too.

    But if you relied solely on information provided at the ballot, you missed a lot. It did not mention the total cost of approximately $32 billion (it is now $43 billion), nor did it mention that the Caltrain corridor was most likely route under consideration for the San Francisco to San Jose segment. Click here to read the complete ballot summary.

    http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/state/prop/1A/

  2. Politics as usual. 

    I can only speculate that Rep. Jerry Lewis thinks the answer is more 100% subsidized highways (preferably in his rural district) vs. partially subsidized rail or any other transportation alternatives.

    Way to go Jerry – more highways for our already choked country!

  3. Ya gotta love vermin, eh I mean politicians who advocate mass transit and high-density housing.

    Although, you will never, ever , ever see these vermin, eh I mean public servants ride mass transit or live in high-density housing.

    • No one in power actually believes the cost and ridership estimates from HSRA.  It’s always been a pleasant fiction.

      But, if you dare criticize the project, you make a lot of enemies.  As a result, almost all Democratic politicians pretend to support HSR.  I’d be surprised if the project could survive a secret ballot vote in either chamber.

  4. then do something, get Jerry Lewis out of there before he does any more damage to the project. if he touch $2 Bellion off of hit, then get him out of office

  5. I’m a strong supporter of this project, and voted for it when it was on the ballot (and I usually vote “No” on most bond measures), but I strongly suspect it will never get built.  We’re no longer the sort of society that can get things done, to put it bluntly.  I don’t know what needs to change in order for that not to be true any longer, but the changes are likely ones which would be characterized as “revolutionary.”

    And they’re long overdue.

  6. “…would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles at a cost of some $43 billion, and result in upward of 100,000 jobs.”

    How could it possibly result in 100,000 jobs? Does Southwest Airlines employ upward of 100,000 people for just its SF-LA flights? Did they just take France’s job numbers for its multiple TGV high speed rail lines and paste them into the projections?

    I would love to see HSR throught the USA, but the proponents have got to get real with the numbers.  It’ll have to be heavily subsidized by the government, as it is in France, Germany, Japan, and China.

  7. The main promoters of this project probably don’t care much whether it ever gets built or not. Rod Diridon et al continue to grow rich regardless…The quintessential public trough feeders.

  8. johnmichael o’connor wrote: “I would love to see HSR throught the USA, but the proponents have got to get real with the numbers.  It’ll have to be heavily subsidized by the government, as it is in France, Germany, Japan, and China.”

    Well, to sell the project in the 2008 election, the proponents had to gloss over the negative points and use questionable models to calculate ridership. Now the chickens are coming home to roost as facts come out. The financing of this project continues to be suspect and nobody believes that costs will come in at $42 billion.

  9. Dan Walters has a good column in the November 29 Sacramento Bee on high speed rail:

    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/29/3217737/dan-walters-california-may-build.html

    Quote:

    The HSRA’s ridership and revenue estimates have been widely panned, including a blistering critique by the University of California’s Institute for Transportation Studies, for their pie-in-the-sky unreality.

    At a state Senate hearing this month, the UC researchers said the authority’s ridership consultant had cooked the books to create a far rosier picture than the facts warranted. Opposition is building in the Legislature, with Democratic senators publicly blasting the HSRA for clinging to an unrealistic business plan.

    The state’s involvement is limited to a $9.95 billion bond issue. While the feds have committed a few billion dollars, the new GOP majority in Congress wants to block further financing. Several California congressmen have urged cancellation of money already in the pipeline. They include Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, who’s now No. 3 in the House hierarchy.

    Without a full federal commitment, there’s absolutely no chance that the much-touted outside investors, either private or governmental entities such as China, will sign on. They also indicate they want revenue guarantees, i.e. subsidies, that the state bond issue bans to make up for any ridership shortfalls.

    There are huge unresolved route issues, including implacable opposition on the San Francisco Peninsula to running bullet trains through their bucolic communities and environmental group criticism of the route over Pacheco Pass.

    Despite this jumble of political and financial uncertainty, the HSRA plans to spend billions of dollars on a section of track out in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

    Is that crazy or what?

  10. Robert:

    FACT: Most of the oil we import does NOT come from the Middle East, as is often falsely portrayed. In fact, as of September, over 60% of the oil we import comes from countries like Canada & Mexico, outside OPEC.

    http://bit.ly/aNpgH

    (Source: US Energy Information Administration)

    On another minor note, not often mentioned in these parts: the High Speed Rail Authority is under an ethics investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission per an L.A. Times story

    http://lat.ms/9ip6Ks

    “The investigation follows reports in The [Los Angeles] Times that officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority took overseas trips paid for by foreign governments jockeying to help their homeland firms secure state contracts.”

    Worth monitoring indeed.

  11. Whenever I have to go to LA I drive, why?

    Check in 2 hours early.
    1 hour waiting for some rubber gloved fellow to grab my junk, in the name of safety.
    1/2 hour waiting to be cleared for takeoff.
    45 minutes to LA
    30 minutes waiting for my luggage
    30 minutes at the car rental place.

    Driving down the I5 at 75, I can do the trip in the same amount of time because I bypass all the TSA safety crap.

    I like the idea of HSR.  200mph trains to LA sounds dandy to me.  Even a thermodynamically environmentally friendly geeky former council candidate like myself knows that using jet thrust to move an object is very wasteful. 

    We talk all the time about wanting freedoms, and independence from foreign energy, well here you go.  Nobody will be searching your junk on a HSR.  Using a fraction of the energy jet propulsion does we won’t need Arab oil.

    • Robert,

      Double the forecast cost and cut the revenue estimate in half.  You’ll then have somewhere near the true numbers and, believe me, it’ll be baaaaaaad!  Financially, this is truly a stinko project.

    • Sorry, Robert, you’ve double counted the TSA groping (it’s why you get there two hours earlier). But if you drive 85MPH…

      • Jeeper,

        That reminds me… why does Robert believe that there won’t be a TSA (or similar)scan/pat-down when boarding HSR?  After all, a 200/+ mph train passing through a highly populated area is a damn fine target for a terrorist.

    • > We talk all the time about wanting freedoms, and independence from foreign energy, well here you go.  Nobody will be searching your junk on a HSR. 

      Oh, baloney.

      You haven’t been paying attention, have you.

      My wife took an AMTRAK train to Washington state several years ago.  In the middle of the night, a federal agent knocked loudly on the door of the compartment next door and demanded to search the compartment and the occupants.

      If you buy a ticket to ride on the AMTRAK, you are AGREEING that the feds can search you and your belongings.  And, by the way, if the former shopping mall cops working for the TSA can grope your junk at an airport checkpoint, federal marshalls can grope your junk on a train.

      HSR will be every bit as intrusive and more.

      Also, blowing up German trains and rails was a favorite pasttime of WW II partisans and resistance fighters.  The Germans lost HUNDREDS of trains.

      Islamic terrorists read history books and go to American universities where they learn physics, chemisty, electronics and hatred of America.

    • > I like the idea of HSR.  200mph trains to LA sounds dandy to me.  Even a thermodynamically environmentally friendly geeky former council candidate like myself knows that using jet thrust to move an object is very wasteful. 

      I’m sure you could probably pass for “thermodynamically environmentally friendly” just by having an Obama bumper sticker on your Prius.

      Assuming for the sake of hilarity that the HSR could be built for $43 billion, it would require a LOT of economic activity to provide the tax revenues and investment capital to fund the project.  As every environmentally sensitive greenie trust-fund child will tell you, $43 billion in economic activity in an advanced capitalist society does a lot of damage to the environment.  Spending $43 billion on concrete, heavy metals like steel, copper, and titanium, and plowing up tens of thousands of acres of central valley desert—excuse me, “pristine wilderness”—is NOT very environmentally sensitive.

      If the “problem” being solved is getting a lot of California butts back and forth between LA and San Francisco in a timely matter, there are faster, better, and cheaper ways to solve that “problem”.

      Why not just re-invent the Eastern Airlines shuttle between LA and SF using twenty first century technology.

      Buy a fleet of 10 or 12 fuel efficient jumbo jets. Build a dedicated floating runway in San Francisco Bay.  Build a dedicated runway in the LA area at a retired military base (Los Alamitos?), and simply shuttle the planes back and forth continually.  Departures every twenty or thirty minutes.  Total project cost: $3 billion dollars. Total construction time: 24 – 36 months.

      AND, it would probably by far more energy efficient than HSR.  The amount of metal moved per mile per passenger to get a butt to LA on a train would be far greater than on a plane, which is basically coasting and gliding for three fourths of every trip.

      There.  Problem solved.

      Whose stupid idea was this HSR thing anyway?

  12. Now the latest on high speed rail. It seems that a DEMOCRAT, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, sent a two-page letter Tuesday to the heads of the Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration calling the idea a “gross misuse” of taxpayer funds.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_16746689

    When even the Democrats small at rat at high speed rail, you can’t call opposition “political gamesmanship.”

  13. Here’s an interesting editorial on high speed rail:
    http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/rail-278023-high-speed.html

    quote

    The high-speed rail program has been a solution in search of a problem. It will cost more and take longer for commuters to go from Southern to Northern California than by air travel. Northern California communities and environmentalists threaten lawsuits to block the plan. Projected ridership levels long have been exposed as inflated, meaning ticket revenue won’t cover costs. The $43 billion price tag certainly will be much more by 2020’s completion date.

  14. About 20 years back Texas came real close to building a nice High-Speed-Rail (HSR) to connect its big cities.  The vote in the legislature was close and hard lobbying by the regional airline (Southwest Airlines) who actually had lobbyists writing checks on the floor of the legislature swung the vote.  The upshot was they realized that they needed some campaign reform and outlawed lobbying and contibutions inside the legislature during a vote.  Downside, no HSR connecting large cities.

    CA learned from this lesson and cut some Faustian-deals to get the project off the ground.  Everyone was going to get a piece of this.  The project would be public-private, leveraging federal and private dollars to build something that sounded great.  The reality is the please everyone approach puts us on a “glide path” for failure.  Tickets are going to cost like crazy ($80-100) which keeps the airlines happy.  Service will be crappy, slowing way down around big cities and then crawling through populated corridors the way light rail goes through downtown.  The NIMBYs on the Peninsula are demanding more…and fearing the worst.  The project will ultimately benefit a few (SF, tourism business, wealthy travellers) but cost all of us a lot.  It would still be worth it if they built it right, but that doesn’t seem possible in the political climate of today where everything is about compromise.  The system needs to be modular, fast, use dedicated right of ways and be built through the whole state and run as efficiently as possible so fares can be kept down.

    I personally am a fan of HSR but fear the worst with what’s happening.  Instead of a clean, affordable to ride, fast and efficient system we’re likely to get something like BART that goes places we don’t want to go, costs too much to ride and runs slow with frequent delays.  The most logical linkage to start would be from SF to SJ, but these jokers are going to start in no mans land Central Valley.  At least go from Fresno to SJ for the first linkage…please.

    I’d rather see a wholly public system with a dedicated revenue stream and capped fare ceilings.  Use the revenue stream to keep building on an ongoing basis, connecting more and more of the state with a nice, fast system.  If you never stop construction, you actually achieve real efficiencies in terms of construction cost investment (vehicles, track, tunneling, etc.)  I’d say make it into a 30-50 year project and do it right and then start over with upgrading track and equipment on a regular time table.

    • > The reality is the please everyone approach puts us on a “glide path” for failure.  Tickets are going to cost like crazy ($80-100) which keeps the airlines happy.  Service will be crappy, slowing way down around big cities and then crawling through populated corridors the way light rail goes through downtown.
      . . .

      > I’d rather see a wholly public system with a dedicated revenue stream and capped fare ceilings.  Use the revenue stream to keep building on an ongoing basis, connecting more and more of the state with a nice, fast system. 

      Blair:

      You are deeply schizophrenic. Seek professional help immediately.

      After correctly articulating the sordid and shabby “reality” of a mammoth public pork-works project, you turn around and pray for a similar project, done “right”.  Government is NEVER going to do anything “right”; it only does things that are politically expedient.

      As a committed NIMBY, I would like to see the HSR built in the central valley between Dinuba and Coalinga, if it HAS to be built at all.  It would be cheaper and safer that way, and the ridership would be much easier to predict.

  15. Yup. Me and the missus was just sayin’ how what this State needs is a good fast $4 billion train between Corcoran and Borden. By gum if that ain’t exactly what we’ums is gittin’!

  16. Real companies in the business of transportation, like Southern Pacific and Union Pacific, exited the passenger rail business decades ago because it could not turn a profit—because people did not want it. The casinos failed to build an LA-Vegas line for the same reason, opting for an airline instead. No one wants high speed rail, either. Even at the highest speeds, it will remain non-competitive compared to air travel. The cost, due to the Constitutional Takings Clause—which does not exist in Europe, Japan or other countries that did build high speed rail—makes this venture impractical. Let’s be clear: this is about moving money into the pockets of the construction and public service unions; it has nothing to do with filling an actual consumer need. Let free markets build high speed rail, not government.

  17. The CA attorney general issued a formal opinion on Wednesday that area office-holders can’t serve on bullet-train panel as well. This was prompted by a controversy over the multiple public hats worn by Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Los Angeles County transportation official Richard Katz.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-high-speed-conflicts-20101202,0,6322530.story

    Maybe this is a non-issue, especially since the two individuals are leaving the HSRA board, but it appears smelly as hell.

  18. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the high-speed rail project, said the authority board is acting prematurely to meet the federal deadlines and without answering critical questions raised by the state auditor, the Legislative Analyst, the attorney general and the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley, which called the project’s ridership projections unreliable.

    “You don’t want to lose the federal funds, but you don’t want to make a poor decision in a panic mode,” said Lowenthal, who fears the agency could create an “orphan” length of track that will never be used by high-speed trains. “The route could be appropriate, but lots of issues still aren’t resolved. I’m concerned about the process.”

    see
    http://www.latimes.com/news/la-high-speed-rail-first-leg-m,0,3318399.story

  19. > Coincidentally, Lewis came under attack this week from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch for his “unapologetic advocacy and abuse of earmarks.” The group says he steered hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of federal projects to family and friends in exchange for campaign contributions.

    All of the Tea Partiers I know believe in forgiveness and redemption.

    If Congressman Lewis succeeds in putting a stake in the heart of HSR, we’ll welcome him back into Church.

    No problem.

  20. Peer report calls for ‘thorough reassessment’ of high-speed rail project:

    Among the report’s calls to action:

    * The “absence of a credible financial plan” has become a “critical concern” requiring a solution that balances the government’s need for private-sector project investment with the private sector’s need for more firm financial commitments from the government—an issue the report calls a “chicken and egg” conundrum;

    * The rail authority needs to define more clearly what role various involved parties should play with regard to the project’s ownership, construction, financing and general management. The report went on to offer five possible models to address the problem;

    * Authority officials need to be more forthcoming about how they think the project will be affected by changing estimates of passenger demand, revenues, investment costs, operating costs and project timing;

    * A legal opinion is required to distinguish the 2008 bond measure’s prohibition on any public “operating subsidy” from the private sector’s request for passenger demand or revenue guarantees;

    * There needs to be greater recognition by the authority that resistance by private railroad operators could be “problematic”;

    * For cost and safety reasons, the authority needs to be clear about how much of the proposed 800-mile system would run at ground level versus through a tunnel or atop an elevated track.

    http://www.bakersfield.com/news/local/x716461163/Peer-report-calls-for-thorough-reassessment-of-high-speed-rail-project

    • > * For cost and safety reasons, the authority needs to be clear about how much of the proposed 800-mile system would run at ground level versus through a tunnel or atop an elevated track.

      A dedicated jumbo jet shuttle between LA and SFO would require NO tunnels, NO elevated tracks, and—for the claustrophobes—be entirely above ground.

      Instead of building a $4 Billion transit terminal and a $1.7 Billion subway tunnel in San Fransico, the ENTIRE air shuttle system could probably be built for $3-4 Billion.

      And the greenie-weenie trust-fund children at the Sierra Club wouldn’t have to worry their pretty little heads over ugly yellow bulldozers scraping up 800 miles worth of “pristine wilderness” in the cental valley.

  21. Joseph Vranich, high speed rail advocate and author of the book “Supertrains,” wrote an op-ed titled “As More Businesses Flee California, Schwarzenegger Deserves ‘Worst Governor’ Award” which can be read here:

    http://foxandhoundsdaily.com/blog/joseph-vranich/8315-as-more-businesses-flee-california-schwarzenegger-deserves-worst-governor-a

    The HSR advocate has this to say about CA high speed rail:

    “Schwarzenegger’s legacy may also saddle untold generations with a huge price tag through a high-speed rail program for which fantasy-land cost calculations exist. A point of disclosure here: I’ve written in favor of high-speed train systems since my first report 40 years ago and with my book Supertrains (see the New York Times book review) and I’ve also testified before Congress many times in favor of such trains. The only high-speed rail project anywhere in the world that I’ve opposed is California’s. As I testified before a California Senate Committee, our trains will be slower than promoters claim (which means they will not be competitive with air travel), will carry fewer people than they predict, and will cost much more than they admit – construction alone will exceed the assumed $45 billion and will reach about $81 billion.”

  22. And now it seems that the naughty high speed rail authority is not throwing enough business to minority firms. “The complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday alleges that the California High-Speed Rail Authority “utterly failed” to attract a diverse group of businesses while handing out more than $500 million in contracts:”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/san-mateo-county/ci_16810219

    It’s difficult to disagree with the Contra Costa times, which said “Conceptually, high-speed rail makes sense. But it should be built in regions of high population density, examples like Western Europe, parts of China, Japan and the northeastern United States. It also should have a solid business plan and competent leaders.”
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_16808319

  23. Oh, wow!

    SOMEONE’s Fairy Godmother has been working overtime.

    Even though the federal budget is in huge defiicit and the government is borrowing monely from China to pay for NPR, PBS, and the National Endowment for the Arts . . .

    Even thought the state budget is in huge deficit and Governor Lunar Emanation is plotting the murder of Proposition 13 . . .

    Even thought the city and county budgets are in huge deficit . . .

    A BILLION DOLLARS PLUS were mysteriouly tucked in the overly snug waistband of the High Speed Rail Authority’s spandex undies so the train buffs could upgrade their “Train To Nowhere” plan to become the “Train To Big Nowhere”.

    I know it’s the Christmas Season, and I’ve seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”, . . . but really!

    How do these miracles happen!

    • Good stuff!

      Even “progressives” are beginning to barf all over this quagmire.

      I like Coupal’s remarks:

      “The cheerleaders of California’s High Speed Rail project long ago ceased to be rational. Study after study now reveals that both ridership and fare revenue projections are so far off what Californians were told when they barely passed the bond measure that the project, if completed, will be a massive drain on the state’s general fund in the form of subsidies just to keep it running. Because massive, ongoing subsidies are a certainty, California would be better off burning $40 billion dollars in a huge pit rather than fund this monstrosity.”

      Perhap we could solve California’s $25 billion budget deficit if we could somehow figure out a way to burn only $15 billion dollars in a pit instead of $40 billion.

      • Like you said, “even “progressives” are beginning to barf all over this quagmire.”

        Getting back to Fly’s original post, reading the above links should be enough to debunk that opposition to the High Speed Rail Authority is purely “political gamesmanship.”

  24. O-MY-GAWD!!!

    Even the infallible Times of the Holy City of New Yawk has noticed that High Speed Rail is a turkey:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/us/03borden.html

    “Worries Follow Route of High-Speed California Line”

    . . .

    But despite the potential bounty of jobs, high-speed rail has not been fully embraced. After the rail authority approved the initial route in early December, Representative Dennis Cardoza, a Central Valley Democrat, disparagingly referred to it as “the train to nowhere.”

    . . .

    TRANSLATION:

    “not been fully embraced”: that sucker’s dying like dog

  25. Today’s dose of HSR wisdom comes from the SF Chronicle:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011
    /01/06/EDBM1H46K0.DTL

    “The state needs to slow down and put people in charge who have experience building and operating a high-speed rail system. The time to act is now. Neither our new governor nor the Legislature wants to waste money, and it’s still possible to get this project under control. Continuing to back the promotional ploys of the rail authority, however, is going to result in system failure. Absent new management, the state is definitely building a very costly train to nowhere.”

  26. > Absent new management, the state is definitely building a very costly train to nowhere.

    Well, I would say that “new management” is definitely absent.

    So I guess that means that the Chronicle is acknowledging that “the state is definitely building a very costly train to nowhere”.

  27. Here’s a column from Newsweek, hardly a right wing publication, from October:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/29/why-high-speed-trains-don-t-make-sense.html

    quote:

    “High-speed rail would subsidize a tiny group of travelers and do little else. If states want these projects, they should pay all costs because there are no meaningful national gains. The administration’s championing and subsidies—with money that worsens long-term budget deficits—represent short-sighted, thoughtless government at its worst.”

  28. > High-speed rail would subsidize a tiny group of travelers and do little else.

    Well, yes.

    But wouldn’t the tiny group of travelers feel really good about themselves?

    Isn’t it the governments job to make people happy?

    I rest my case.

  29. And now the liberal Washington Post wades into the fray:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/11/AR2011011106259.html

    “Given that California’s system has attracted zero private capital and has been unable to guarantee any source – governmental or private – for almost half the cost of completion, the obvious risk is that the federal taxpayer will be on the hook for billions of dollars worth of railroad track that may never serve its intended high-speed purpose. But the Obama administration sought the funds, as part of the 2009 stimulus package, and Congress approved them – and so they must be spent.”

  30. “High Speed Rail Under Attack”. Literally!

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Suspected_bomb_derails_Moscow-St_Petersburg_train,_kills_at_least_25

    Suspected bomb derails Moscow-St Petersburg train, kills at least 25

    “An express train travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg in Russia derailed yesterday, leaving at least 25 people dead and 100 more wounded. Authorities suspect a terrorist attack after a possible bomb crater was found beside the line.”

    “The trainwreck occurred in the countryside of Tver, near Bologoye. Around 650 passengers were on board the Nevsky Express which was travelling during peak time along one of Russia’s most-traversed rail routes. Ninety of the injured are hospitalised, with hundreds of rescue workers attending and three victims being airlifted by helicopter.”

    Gee!  Imagine that!  Terrorists attacking a High Speed Rail train.

    Who would have thunk?

    But I’m sure that those nasty terrorists would NEVER attack OUR High Speed Rail because we’re nice people who care about the environment.

  31. Feds Ask for Vigilance on Trains Based on Info from Bin Laden Compound

    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Feds-Ask-for-Vigilance-on-Trains-Based-on-Information-from-Bin-Laden-Compound-121350829.html?iigg

    “An advisory has been sent to law enforcement officials asking them to be vigilant about train security based on information uncovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound after his death, officials said.”

    Gee!  Imagine that!  Terrorists attacking a High Speed Rail train.

    Who would have thunk?

    But I repeat myself.

  32. Oh, dear.

    I’ve heard some troubling reports that the Borden-to-Corcoran High Speed Rail system might be delayed.

    And further, the actual cost might be nearly the same as the NASA Apollo moon landing program.

    This is troubling.

    Rapid and efficient passenger transportation between Border and Corcoran is vital to the health of the California economy.

    I urge everyone to contact their legislators and make sure that they are fully committed building the BorCorc System. 

    If it is not built, the future of California’s children is in doubt, and California risks economic collapse and turning into a third world society.