High-speed de-rail in California

posted at 8:43 am on May 18, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

California got $3.5 billion in federal money from the Obama administration for its high-speed rail project that will connect San Francisco to Los Angeles.  So far, they’ve managed to break ground in an effort to connect two central-state communities so small that one of them is unincorporated, for service that will connect fewer people than live in Anaheim.  The project will cost at least $43 billion when it’s done by the most cheery estimates, and that’s only if the state’s High Speed Rail Authority quits drawing more circles around the high desert rather than straight lines between destinations.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board, a backer of high-speed rail, says the lesson from the series of failures is that California needs to create another government agency to run high-speed rail.  In my new column at The Week, I argue that the real lesson is that government-run monopolies that deliver worse service at higher cost in a transportation corridor that is already well served by multiple airlines should be abandoned:

California’s high-speed rail project has lots of problems, but its most basic is purpose. The project proposes to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with an express train that will take two hours and 40 minutes from beginning to end. That sounds good in comparison to the drive, which is approximately six-and-a-half hours, when there is no traffic, or by existing Amtrak service, which takes almost 10 hours to go from Union Station to Moscone Center — and uses two buses.

In contrast, passengers have plenty of choices for direct transportation between the two major metropolitan areas via commercial airlines. Not only does the airline ticket price on Travelocity come in at only a little more than subsidized Amtrak fares for a round trip ($138 as compared to $112), it takes less than half of the time to travel than the proposed “high-speed” rail project does — 75 minutes as opposed to 160 minutes. Consumers can save an average of $20 on fares by booking a flight from less-used Long Beach Airport (adding only 5 minutes to the length of the flight), and still have a choice between three different airlines for non-stop service.

With these choices and convenience, why bother going ground at all?

If it was cheaper, then that might be a reason to pursue high-speed rail, but it’s obviously not going to be less expensive than airline infrastructure.  Even if one had to completely rebuild LAX and San Francisco’s airports, the $43 billion price tag would likely more than cover the cost.  Even after building the line, though, taxpayers will have to heavily subsidize riders on a high-speed rail line:

A recent study at the Heritage Foundation shows that the federal subsidies for Amtrak now are over $237 per every 1,000 passenger miles, while commercial airline fares get $4.23 of subsidies for the same measure. A ticket may be cheaper at the window for high-speed rail, but it’s going to cost taxpayers a bundle.

The LAT ‘s editors claim that high-speed rail will not only be “cheaper” (which is only true if, as noted,  you artificially lower ticket prices through subsidies) but “safer and cheaper competition to airlines” as well as “reducing reliance on gas-guzzling automobiles.”  Airlines have an unparalleled safety record in the transportation sector, and that comes from a man who’s a white-knuckle flier.  Besides, airlines compete with each other; government trains shouldn’t exist just to compete with private-sector transportation, but should only get that kind of extremely expensive taxpayer investment when no private-sector solutions exist for a corridor.  That’s hardly the case between San Francisco and Los Angeles, where several airlines provide non-stop competition not just between SFO and LAX, but also with San Jose in the north and Long Beach, Burbank, and Ontario in the south.

As far as the concern over the environment, well, California will need a lot more electricity to run the high-speed rail.  Where will they get it?  The state won’t build any more electricity-producing plants, which is why they buy so much from out of state.  Arizona already provides 25% of the power used in Los Angeles.  They will either have to start building fossil-fuel generation facilities to get the power they need, or they will have to buy more from fossil-fuel generators out of state.  Furthermore, the route will chew up hundreds of miles of land, force the state to level hills or dig tunnels, or eat up otherwise productive agricultural land in the Central Valley.

Oh, and don’t forget about that pesky little minor problem of running the tracks roughly parallel to, and presumably at points over, the San Andreas Fault.  One of the more amusing comments at The Week demanded that I consider what happens when the world runs out of jet fuel for the airlines.  Somehow, I think California will see a major quake across the San Andreas before that day comes, and maybe more than one.

The High Speed Rail Game is very much like the global thermonuclear war simulation in the film War Games.  The only way to win is not to play — at least with taxpayer money.

Update: Reason TV has a lengthy video on the drawbacks of high-speed rail, although it focuses more highways as the alternative for public spending. At least stick around long enough to hear the example of the high-speed rail proposal for the Chicago-St. Louis proposal. That project would have spent $2 billion to upgrade a route in order to take 20 minutes off of its current 3-hour, 45-minute trip time.


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Anthony F. Lewis goes into the absurdity of government high speed rail vs. private in his book Middle America, the sequel to The Third Revolution.

fossten on May 18, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Plus parking, rent cars, hotels and all the things that passengers want when they arrive in another city.

tomg51 on May 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM

I don’t care what the particular problem/issue that is trying to be solved is….but government’s solution is ALWAYS more government.

search4truth on May 18, 2011 at 8:50 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Both are loco.

Shy Guy on May 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM

And we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar being spent now at the federal level. When does the insanity STOP???!!!!

karenhasfreedom on May 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM

I argue that the real lesson is that government-run monopolies that deliver worse service at higher cost in a transportation corridor that is already well served by multiple airlines should be abandoned…

And in other breaking news today, water is still wet.

GrannyDee on May 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM

It never mattered to the Libs that nobody wanted to ride it…

kingsjester on May 18, 2011 at 9:01 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

The ability to move large numbers of people at one time to a destination of their choosing.

Naturally Curly on May 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM

Shy Guy on May 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Excellent!

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

A glaring example of progressive thinking. If this doesn’t work, we need more of it. At some point the adults are going to have to tell the kids NO, you can’t have more of my money to buy stuff you don’t need. I will never understand the left’s mentality.

Kissmygrits on May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Were this just a Cali high rail problem you could chalk it up to liberal democrap incompetence. However, China’s high speed rail system (the government the liberals go gaga over) is in collapse and the government agency charged with promoting it is way over budget and in a massive corruption scandal. Since we are told by liberals/progressives how much more intelligent and efficient the Chinese (Reds) are than the US, if they couldn’t engineer a pragmatic, cost effective, non corrupt, high speed rail system, what chance would the USA have of doing so? And if the US had no such chance, why waste our resources on such a Quixotic waste of resources?

eaglewingz08 on May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

OH THIS CANNOT BE TRUE!!!!

We cannot afford to cut EVEN ONE THIN DIME from Government Spending.

SPEND ON BABBY

PappyD61 on May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Sounding more like the “Big Dig” part Deux project.

hawkman on May 18, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Worldwide, there are only two high-speed rail lines that can operate without a subsidy (though at least one is subsidized anyway): Paris-Lyon, and Tokyo-Osaka.

Vashta.Nerada on May 18, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Will they bring in Dagney Taggart to run it?

iurockhead on May 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM

And we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar being spent now at the federal level. When does the insanity STOP???!!!!

karenhasfreedom on May 18, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Soon no one will lend us money

darwin-t on May 18, 2011 at 9:09 AM

3.5 billion? Boston laughs.

SKYFOX on May 18, 2011 at 9:12 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Yet they scoff at Atlas Shrugged because rail is so outdated.

John Deaux on May 18, 2011 at 9:17 AM

HSR in Kalifornia has been a farce from Day One. Underestimation of costs, overestimation of ridership, and flat out lying about ‘not costing the taxpayer a dime’.

If it’s such a great idea, why have NO private investors shown up? That was part of the selling point.

GarandFan on May 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Soon no one will lend us money

darwin-t on May 18, 2011 at 9:09 AM

That’s exactly what’s going to happen. Cuts are coming one way or another whether Dems like it or not. We can do it now voluntarily or wait until the economy & government spending finally hits the wall.

There is a crash coming, it’s not “if” it’s “when”.

Tim Zank on May 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM

What is it with liberals socialists and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

FIFY.

Dominion on May 18, 2011 at 9:25 AM

If we’re going to be building trains, how about starting with light rail to LAX? The current line ends about three miles away, and completing that link would mean easy access to downtown and Union Station.

I’m all for public transit, but only when it makes sense.

renaistre on May 18, 2011 at 9:27 AM

“Oh, and don’t forget about that pesky little minor problem of running the tracks roughly parallel to, and presumably at points over, the San Andreas Fault.”

Bill it as having the potential of being The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride (Survivors Tickets refunded).

Yoop on May 18, 2011 at 9:35 AM

they’ve managed to break ground in an effort to connect two central-state communities so small that one of them is unincorporated,

You got me unnecessarily excited because I thought they had canceled this boondoggle. What a dumb and wasteful idea at a time when we are going broke. And since they killed the central valley with their stupid epa regulations, it’s even more of a bad joke.

This proposed rail goes from an unincorporated area to Concoran — a prison.

Blake on May 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM

If they are so adamant about building rail systems, why don’t they concentrate on finishing BART, putting it down the SF peninsula to San Jose and up the east side to Fremont, like it was originally designed back in the 70′s.

Or extend the CalTrain to the SF East Bay to fill in the gap.

Either solution might get me out of my car for my daily commute. As it stands now, if I wanted to use rail to go to work, my commute time would double and I’d have to buy two train tickets since the fares aren’t transferable.

High speed rail from SF to LA? At best I might use to twice a year when visiting family.

SPCOlympics on May 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM

You forgot Oakland which is also has a great airport to fly in and out of.

Blake on May 18, 2011 at 9:40 AM

My husband got a job 200 miles away and for now we’re commuting on week-ends to see each other. Checked out Amtrak prices to see if it might be a cheaper option for me and my 2 year old since gas prices are so high. But it’s a joke. $75.00 one way, that would pay for the gas there and back even at these prices plus I’ll have the convenience of having my car while I’m there.

Also, there is no baggage check at the local train station so I would have to manage the luggage, car seat, stroller and 2 year old by myself and I just see that as one big head ache. Yikes!

Look Right on May 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM

A friend of mine took the train from LA to Capistrano. It took four hours. If she had drove, it would have only been 1 hour.

Blake on May 18, 2011 at 9:42 AM

You’ve completely jumped the shark here.
It has nothing to do with cost effectiveness or even travel time.

It has to do with Amtrak Joe, and crony capitalism, multiplied by kick backs and divided by union fees, + union thugs x steady “revenue stream” of permanent tax subsidies = WINDFALL….for the public good of course.

KMC1 on May 18, 2011 at 9:48 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Isn’t that how most livestock is transported?

BKeyser on May 18, 2011 at 9:52 AM

I understand why folks would want to leave ‘Frisco’ quickly but I don’t understand folks who want to get there quickly.

Limerick on May 18, 2011 at 9:54 AM

so it takes longer, costs as much if not more, will take TRILLIONS to ever see the light of day and then require continued subsidies to even continue to exist…..

Sounds like a perfect plan to keep Government jobs in play and Union Contractors busy for decades!

SDarchitect on May 18, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Me too!

MJBrutus on May 18, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Rail is the largest consumer/produce of carbon related pollution per passenger mile. much more than even air. It is sold as using less energy. That assumes a car has only one occupant and the train is full.

The other reality is they dictate where you go and departure and return schedules.

Rail will never work.

seven on May 18, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Socialists love trains because they aren’t cars.

They loth cars because those let the little people go where the little people want to go, not where the right people think they should go.

It’s all about control, and status.

LarryD on May 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Project will be abandoned after countless billions when the first California Condor dies on the tracks.

Wildlife hardest hit.

marybel on May 18, 2011 at 10:08 AM

The other thing they could do is improve the existing rail passenger traffic between SF and LA.

There is one Amtrak train between the two cities, the Coast Starlight. There is only one train per day (one going south in the morning hours, one going north in the evening). The trip is slow because of the multiple stops.

They could improve this buy running one or more additional trains with only one or two quick stops along the way, say one in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara where there are large universities.

They already have the right of way so no need to fight NIMBYs. If needed they can upgrade the rails or added additional track. There’s very little freight traffic on the coast so there should be few delays.

But noooo, they have to abandon existing rail, where people live and vacation, and build new rail in the (soon to be) desert valley.

SPCOlympics on May 18, 2011 at 10:15 AM

First, the thing everybody needs to realize about us out in Cali is that we’re completely bat$h!+ crazy.

Second, this isn’t about trains. It’s about government growing its power and reach. It’s all they know how to do. The bond we passed recently doesn’t even require the state to build a train or construct it’s route.

Pablo Snooze on May 18, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Not that anyone reads this far down in the comments, but for those of us who live in the middle, a plane ticket to LAX or SFO is not a reasonable “$138″ as mentioned in the story, but instead a whopping $676 as of this morning on Orbitz.

That said, I am no fan of bloated government bureaucracy, and unless the HSRA can generate something close to a realistic business plan, I will fight against it tooth and nail. However, a cheap alternative to the several hours long car ride would be advantageous for commuters and families.

classicaliberal on May 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Its all about control of our mobility.

dogsoldier on May 18, 2011 at 10:29 AM

the airline ticket price on Travelocity come in at only a little more than subsidized Amtrak fares for a round trip ($138 as compared to $112), it takes less than half of the time to travel than the proposed “high-speed” rail project does — 75 minutes as opposed to 160 minutes.

Does that include driving to the airport, parking costs, and standing around in your socks while some fat moron gropes you?

mojo on May 18, 2011 at 10:35 AM

This proposed rail goes from an unincorporated area to Concoran — a prison.

Blake on May 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Perhaps this is part of the Funds for Felons program!

Plus a way for escapees to quickly get a few miles away with a forged boarding pass… that is if it ever runs…

Trains are great for hauling huge amounts of goods a long distance: from the West Coast it is one of the cheapest forms of long hauliing around. It says something when the trailers of tractor-trailer rigs are modified to be containers on rail cars for easy transport. That infrastructure, the train hauling infrastructure, is vital to the economy.

Passenger rail is a waste of time in a Nation this big with so many destinations that passenger trains can’t serve them all. Mixed mode works great… and its gotten to the point that if you have a destination less than 500 miles away it is faster to go by car than by plane… add in the time to park, get in line, get checked over, wait for the plane, wait on the ground, actually fly someplace, then get any luggage and get to your destination and you could have driven there faster. Perhaps not as cheaply, but time is your life…and since that Pournelle rule was first made in the 1990′s, I think it probably goes out just a bit more by now.

ajacksonian on May 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Just got back from Disney World and it is a perfect microcosm of the folloy of high speed rail. When Disney World was highly centralized 30 years ago, the monorail (the high speed rail in this microcosm) worked just fine. What did Disney do when they starting building more resorts anf theme parks all over their property?

They shifted to buses, running on diesel not natual gas mind you. They have not added a monorail line since 1982.

WashJeff on May 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Driving from San Francisco to LA is also a chore–6 hours on the 5, or 7 hours on the 101. Two words: Southwest Airlines.

Emperor Norton on May 18, 2011 at 10:44 AM

We have left use of rail for transportation of cattle. The trip is long and they need water and food. With humans, time and food on long trips is an added cost.
In communism, treating folks like cattle is more normal.

seven on May 18, 2011 at 10:50 AM

In communism liberalism, treating folks like cattle is more normal.

seven on May 18, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Some animals are more equal than other animals.

Roy Rogers on May 18, 2011 at 10:55 AM

High speed rail? Pfui! How about a gravity train?

PersonFromPorlock on May 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Worldwide, there are only two high-speed rail lines that can operate without a subsidy (though at least one is subsidized anyway): Paris-Lyon, and Tokyo-Osaka.

Vashta.Nerada on May 18, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Whoever is pushing high-speed rail in California should take a good hard look at the Paris-Lyon TGV line in France, IN PERSON, by riding on it.

In order to run a train at 180 mph, the French built special tracks, with only very gentle slopes and curves, and for the purposes of safety, eliminated all grade crossings by building bridges/tunnels for all existing roads crossing the train route. This is economically feasible across relatively flat farmland between Paris and Beaune and a few rolling hills along the Saone Valley between Beaune and Lyon.

But this would be an expensive engineering nightmare across the very mountainous terrain between San Francisco and Los Angeles! It may be feasible to run a high-speed rail line north and south along the Central Valley, but travelers from SF or LA would still need to use a “slow” train through the mountains to connect to it, and total transit time between SF and LA would be MUCH longer than by planes (which can fly over the ocean), including taxi rides and waits at airports.

The keys to the feasibility of high-speed rail are connecting TWO LARGE CITIES about 200 to 500 miles apart, and TOPOGRAPHY of the land between them. Why spend $billions drilling holes in mountains for trains, when you can fly over them? This is a question for the FREE MARKET to decide–if it’s too expensive, it ain’t worth doing.

Steve Z on May 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

or eat up otherwise productive agricultural land in the Central Valley.

The feds have already ruined employment in agriculture in the valley with their eco wacko water control, so now they are going to “fix” it with high speed rail.

PattyJ on May 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

The Germans experimented with mass transit in the middle of the last century. It was low cost, efficient, and the trains ran on time. In an odd twist, there were no customer complaints filed about lost luggage, missed connections, or en-route services.

Libards today are merely attempting to copy that system, and add speed.

BobMbx on May 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM

KMC1 on May 18, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Exactly.

Kenosha Kid on May 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM

The problem is no one is held accountable for the downside. We need a law that requires every politician who votes in favor of rail to issue a personal guaranty, nondischargeable in bankruptcy, for cost over-runs and revenue shortfalls.

Over50 on May 18, 2011 at 11:23 AM

How about building an Autobahn style road with no speed limit on it between LA and San Fran. That would get people there faster.

Corsair on May 18, 2011 at 11:43 AM

“So far, they’ve managed to break ground in an effort to connect two central-state communities”

Note that this effort is TRACK ONLY, there will be no trains running on this initial length. So in the middle of a budget crisis we blow a bunch of money to lay track between two central valley towns but run no trains on them at all. In the meantime they will sit and rust while we wait for money for the rest of the system to be built and get some actual service on the line.

This is actually the WORST possible scenario. We get to maintain track that isn’t being used for years!

crosspatch on May 18, 2011 at 11:45 AM

The fun part will be that if/when this project is ever completed, the friendly neighborhood TSA will be there to strip search the 37 people who choose to ride it.

Left Coast Right Mind on May 18, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Are they gonna be using Rearden Metal for the rails?

esnap on May 18, 2011 at 11:57 AM

The high-speed rail boondoggle is all about two things:

1.) Politicians spending our money lavishly, dishing out contracts to their friends.
2.) The Left’s haytred of “gas-guzzling” automobiles, and the freedom they provide us all.

It’s not complicated.

P.S. Will the Left EVER wrap their arms around the fact that THIS AIN’T EUROPE? If the entire U.S. was the size of Texas or even Alaska, we’d already have it all connected-up with high-speed rail. But this country is VAST. Duh!

FlatlanderByTheLake on May 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM

What is it with liberals and trains?

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Easy, it’s all about denying individuality, responsibility and freedom in favor of the collective. The train represents the collective.

The alternative to trains is generally cars, and many of them carry one person at a time and the liberals just hate that. The liberals can’t dictate where the car stops, who it carries, costs, schedules, etc. They can’t excercise the control that they hunger for over a car.

slickwillie2001 on May 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM
The Germans experimented with mass transit in the middle of the last century. It was low cost, efficient, and the trains ran on time. In an odd twist, there were no customer complaints filed about lost luggage, missed connections, or en-route services.

Libards today are merely attempting to copy that system, and add speed.

BobMbx on May 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM

I also recall Stalin really liked trains, too.
No complaints ever heard about on those, either.
If Mao would have had a good rail system, I am sure he would have made good use of them, too.
Which reminds me, what’s Chavez doing with his trains?

Badger40 on May 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Europe had their Orient Express. California will have their Twilight Zone Express. *sigh*

capejasmine on May 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Steve Z on May 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Terrain is why they want to run the HST through the Central Valley. The route from the Bay area into the San Joaquin has been one of the contentious issues, but I believe the fairly obvious solution of punching a bigger hole in the Pacheco Pass is what has been selected. (They’re going to run into concern about the ecosystem there, of course.)

It won’t be as much of a gradient issue to run the HST into LA — but it will assuredly be a HUGE community-resistance issue. It’s been tough enough in the Bay area, but they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. If this whole thing comes to pass, the fights they will have on their hands when people in the LA suburbs realize what it’ll take will be gruesome.

Just so you know: key likely bidders on the HST project are China and General Electric. Go figure.

J.E. Dyer on May 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

They’re going to run into concern about the ecosystem there, of course.)

J.E. Dyer on May 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Just think of all of the lawsuits environmentalists can file to make even more money from the govt’s EAJA coffers!

Badger40 on May 18, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Whenever the argument turns to carbon footprint nonsense, you know it has been lost on merit.

pat on May 18, 2011 at 12:25 PM

One thing where high speed rail can work is where the state owns the track but allow private companies to compete for use of it.

Imagine a coast to coast like that had an average speed limit of 100 mph where private companies could put trains on the track. Think if it like the highway system where there might be several bus lines competing.

crosspatch on May 18, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Imagine a coast to coast like that had an average speed limit of 100 mph where private companies could put trains on the track. Think if it like the highway system where there might be several bus lines competing.

crosspatch on May 18, 2011 at 12:27 PM

But, what if you wanted to get off in Vegas, the guy next to you in Wichita, the guy behind you in Kansas City, etc…

Whats the point of high speed if it stops every 30 mins? It only makes sense when its non-stop, point-to-point.

BobMbx on May 18, 2011 at 12:38 PM

A few years ago when I was living in San Leandro (south of Oakland) I looked at using the existing commuting system.
Here are my findings:
1) Drive from home to the Bart station (pay parking).
2) Ride Bart to SF (1-1.5 hours).
3) Walk approx. 1 mile from the Bart station to the Caltran station.
4) Ride it approx. 1 hour to the San Carlos station.
5) Walk approx. 2/3 mile to work.

This is about a 3-hour commute in either direction. The driving distance is 25-27 miles (avg. 1-1.5 hours in either direction. Costs are comparable.
I decided that commuting was undesirable.
This is in a state that prides itself on public transportation. Thank God I’m in Texas now!

mad scientist on May 18, 2011 at 1:06 PM

$43 Billion? That is just to complete it?

You could pay for 50,000 people to fly via airline between those cities every day of the year for 16 straight years for that….and that doesn’t include general maintenance on the rail.

Where are the environmentalists on this? We can’t drill offshore but we can dig up the landscape for half the length of the state?

Ditkaca on May 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

This project is a Boondoggle. I live in the center of the state and I see no point to the high speed rail proposal. I travel up and down the state frequently. We don’t have money to fix Highway 99, potholes can be found on every freeway in the state.
We are broke and they want to build a train with overpriced fares? Fix my freeways, forget the trains.

FireBlogger on May 18, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Just so you know: key likely bidders on the HST project are China and General Electric. Go figure.

J.E. Dyer on May 18, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Once Obama executes his EO, I’m sure GE has it in the bag. If not already.

capejasmine on May 18, 2011 at 1:59 PM

The LAT ‘s editors claim that high-speed rail will not only be “cheaper” (which is only true if, as noted, you artificially lower ticket prices through subsidies) but “safer”

Have they considered the security cost, feasibilty and safety implications of operating a several hundred mile railway in this day of terrorist explosives and rocket propelled grenades?

Mason on May 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Will they be using Reardon steel?

Bevan on May 18, 2011 at 3:29 PM

It’s the stupid, stupid.

hillbillyjim on May 18, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Cindy Munford on May 18, 2011 at 8:56 AM
The Germans experimented with mass transit in the middle of the last century. It was low cost, efficient, and the trains ran on time. In an odd twist, there were no customer complaints filed about lost luggage, missed connections, or en-route services.

Libards today are merely attempting to copy that system, and add speed.

BobMbx on May 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM

I also recall Stalin really liked trains, too.
No complaints ever heard about on those, either.
If Mao would have had a good rail system, I am sure he would have made good use of them, too.
Which reminds me, what’s Chavez doing with his trains?

Badger40 on May 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

BRAVO! I tried to come up with a post that described that horror, without getting myself banned, and I failed.

As I recall, tickets were free on that line also.

Jimmy Doolittle on May 18, 2011 at 5:16 PM

I take it that none of you actually live in Southern California and have had to deal with the insane traffic. I support the high speed rail plan in California. It’s going to greatly improve things down here.

Now Ed thinks that taking a plane is the best alternative. But for me, I would rather just jump on a train and go instead of having to go through all the trouble of waiting in line, checking in, paying a ton of money for my bags, going through security, and waiting some more for the plane to arrive.

SoulGlo on May 18, 2011 at 7:48 PM