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Editorial: The slow death of high-speed rail

Original post made on Aug 16, 2011

The bad economic news keeps piling up in front of the California High-Speed Rail project but will it be enough to bring Governor Brown, the state Legislature and even the federal government to their senses?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 8:53 PM

Comments (15)

Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

This is an excellent compilation of many of the facts that have been pointing to just how ridiculous this project has been, what miss-representations it has trumpeted, and what a disaster it will be for the State.

Nevertheless, the legislature, despite numerous opportunities to halt the project has thus far, even in face of all this evidence, gone ahead and continued to fund. Right now the project is eating up about $700,000 per day. Yet we are cutting education, social programs and other much needed services in these trying times.

It just makes no sense.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Kill HSR. Kill it yesterday. Put that money somewhere useful.

Posted by WerstCoastSeptic
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 17, 2011 at 7:56 am

Just follow the money. Much of the $700,000 the state spends on high state rail goes to consultants. Those same consultants are making large contributions to the campaigns of our elected officials starting with Jerry Brown and our US senators.

Is there any wonder our elected officials won't stop the money?

Posted by Buford
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I would love to have an HSR to LA. I just don't want to have to help fork over $80 to $100 billion to make it happen. And, in the end, it would probably still be cheaper and faster to fly, or (more slowly) drive down with 2-3 people in the car. There are folks out there who are so taken with rail transportation that they're blind to reality. It's like back in the 1800s when rail was king, and they thought that rail would eventually serve every little burg in California! Soon, reality set in and only the biggest rail lines survived. Also, I would've preferred for the HSR route to follow the Amtrak Coast Starlight route to SoCal -- much faster and much less expensive.

Posted by GovernorBrownKILLIT
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 17, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Mother Jones – the ultra liberal, leftist, greenist, periodical in the World said on 8/11/2011 in an article titled “California’s HSR Boondoggle – Now More Boondoggly” that the California High Speed boondoggle should be ended, now, for several reasons, mostly that construction costs have already ballooned, likely to exceed $100,000,000,000,000.00 ($100 billion) in 2011-year dollars. Call California Governor Jerry Brown at (916) 445-2841 to demand that he end the boondoggle now. Mother Jones said: “Look, I'm sorry HSR lovers. I love me some HSR too, but this project is just a fantastic boondoggle. It didn't even make sense with the original cost estimates, and it's now plain that it's going to cost three or four times more than that. What's more, the ridership estimates are still fantasies and it won't be able to compete with air travel without large, permanent subsidies. This is just too much money to spend on something this dumb. It's the kind of thing that could set back HSR for decades. Sacramento needs to pull the plug on this, and they need to pull it now. We have way better uses for this dough.” Article here: Web Link

Combine MJ’s call to kill the boondoggle with Democratic California Treasurer Bill Lockyer saying the project should be ended (for numerous business reasons) - Web Link and the United States House of Representatives recognizing this national boondoggle as the national embarrassment that it is, and giving it the national “Boondoggle of the Year”, then this project needs to be ended today. National recognition here: Web Link

Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Very unfortunately, but certainly not unexpected, Governor Brown came out again in favor of the project, despite all it problems.


Web Link

August 17, 2011
Jerry Brown calls for high speed rail to move forward ....

Posted by surprised?
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:27 pm

When are the voters of this backward state going to look in the mirror? They keep voting for unsustainable projects, programs, and entitlements, and then elect the self-righteous liberals to approve the funding that they don't have, then somehow blame it on the conservatives, who don't even have the power. Meg Whitman wouldn't have let it get this far! (Can't wait to see the responses to that bold statement. Let 'em rip, Libs!)

Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Well speaking as a liberal, I totally believe Darling Meg would have let it go forward too..........If we are going to stop this foolishness we need to set aside our political differences and start using some commom sense.......

Its like a person who has lost their job deciding to buy a Rolls Royce....Bloody lunacy

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Interested -

I only wish it were like a person who has lost their job deciding to buy a Rolls Royce. That would be just $250,000 or so.

In this case, it's like a person who has lost their job deciding to buy a dozen Nimitz class nuclear aircraft carriers.

Private companies will transport tens of thousands of people between the Bay Area and Southern California today without the government spending a dime. (And for those of you who wish to note the cost of the FAA and airports, like Social Security benefits, those costs are borne by travelers who use the service.)

If ever there were an example of our government not working, this project would be it. This is sheer lunacy.

Posted by J. Wong
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 9:34 am

No, it's more like you lost your job, but still pay for your kid to go to college.

And no, private companies don't transport people without the government spending a dime. Who pays for the roads or the airports or the air traffic control? Not the private companies, that's for sure.

Build HSR today for the future!

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

KILL HSR and kill it NOW.

Posted by Susan
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I'm an environmentalist and a liberal, but it's obvious that HSR is a poorly thought-out project. And who is going to use it? It costs $100 to ride the Acela from Boston to NYC and takes over 3 hours. It costs less to fly to LA on Southwest with advance ticket purchase or you can drive there for $70 worth of gas. The destruction that would be wrought on Peninsula neighborhoods would be awful, too. Quit wasting the money and support schools and health care. I voted against this from the get-go. A terrible idea.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Good points, J. Wong.

The costs and benefits of infrastructure, including the infrastructure of the rule of law, are conveniently forgotten in so many calculations of "free enterprise" and the "invisible hand" of the market and disrespect for regulation and admonishments to run governments like businesses.

I am not defending the current HSR plan, but I am defending HSR done right and with sacrifices, if necessary. The Republican model so vigorously and skillfully insinuated into the culture over the past 30 years has gotten us to where we are today. It doesn't work.

We need progressive tax rates and rational politics and lasting disrespect for greed and its associated behaviors. That's what will work for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful.

Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm

The comparison to the 1800s' mad rush to build railroads is interesting. Most of those efforts, including the great transcontinental line, were based on money from gullible investors who were left with nothing each time the rail companies reorganized - this is how the system was financed, and that in a day when there was no viable competition to rail once completed. The builders of the 19th century rail lines were the Enron and Lehman Bros. of the day, giving rise to the title "Robber Barons". California and DC want to emulate that fraud with taxpayer dollars so they can "out people to work". Thats noble.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

J Wong smugly asks, "Who pays for the roads or the airports or the air traffic control?"

Unlike High Speed Rail that is NOT designed to be self-supporting and REQUIRES subsidies from non-users, airports and air traffic control are paid exclusively by airline passenger taxes. You should read your airline receipts more carefully.

As for roads, airline passengers - as well as everyone else who purchases fuel or a vehicle license fee - pays for those too.

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