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Update: High-speed rail price tag drops by $30B in new plan

Original post made on Apr 3, 2012

California's proposed high-speed rail system would extend from the Central Valley to the Los Angeles Basin within the next decade and would cost $30 billion less than previous estimates indicated under a new business plan that the agency charged with building the system released this morning, April 2.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 2, 2012, 1:34 PM

Comments (13)

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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 3, 2012 at 8:30 am

The new business plan should really be looked at as nothing more than an effort by the HSR Authority to get the State legislature to approve funding for the initial construction in the Central Valley.

The Authority is now promising both No. California and So. California transit (commuter) agencies, that Prop 1A funds will be used to enhance their systems. The Authority plans to spend close to $2 billion from Prop 1A bond funds in this effort. How many legislators in the north and south, will now vote to fund the project, because they see money flowing into their districts? That is the whole key to this plan.

Prop 1A was supposed to be funding a High Speed Rail project, and not about improving local commuter trains. The $30 billion in savings that Chair Richard is yelling about, is the result of changing the project from a real High Speed Rail project to something else.

Under this plan, only about 300 miles of the over 500 mile route from SF to LA would be real HSR tracks. The other 200 miles would be using commuter tracks. The result is much longer times to make the trip.

Prop 1A stated that travel time from SF to LA would be under 2 hr 42 minutes. If you do a speed profile with this new plan, you will find that the trip will be at least 4 hours and perhaps as long as 5 hours. This will effectively make the choice of using an airline or using the train fall very much on the side of air travel, which consumes only about 1 hour in the air, and even with extra time to get to the airport, check in etc., still will save a large amount of time relative to taking the train.

Ridership numbers will be much lower than forecast under the original full build out plan, and the net result will be the train will generate huge operating deficits (illegal under Prop 1A)

The new plan solves none of the financing problems facing the project. The business plan calls for an additional $38 billion from the Federal government, which has shut off funding for the last 2 years and is projecting no further funding for the next 5 years.

All of this simply make no sense. It is time to stop this boondoggle now.

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Posted by Bradley
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Apr 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Railroad tracks are like children and tatoos, they are forever. Burning fossil fuels for air travel warms the planet, remember? The trains now only blow their horns in wealthy neighborhoods that resisted grade separations. Be progresive now and support the inevitible. Else, keep the tomato baskets loaded for throwing

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Posted by Wiser
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Morris is right on! Read beyond the headlines. It's not the same project that was approed by the voters. The HSR authority does not want you to know that. All they put out there is that the price tag has suddenly dropped by $30 billion....which, by the way, is still about 6 times as much as they said it was going to be when they were selling the bogus bill of goods to the voters. It's like the oil companies escalating gas prices up toward $5, just to make $4 look cheap. This was always a bad idea, promoted by a bunch of self serving snake oil sellers. Now it has become even worse--both the idea, and the sellers. How pathetic!

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Posted by Sir Topham Hatt
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Apr 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Bradley is right- this project is indeed like a tattoo. An impulse decision made on emotion with no thoughts to the future consequences. Just as getting that barbed wire inked onto your bicep seemed like a fine idea in the midst of a spring-break bender, the illusion initally sold to voters may have sounded good at the time. Now it is looking like one of those teadrop tatoos that condemns you to not being allowed to work the front counter at Jack in the Box.

My tomatoes are ready to go- heirloom and organic only, natch.

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Once the giant civil engineering firms, unions, and legislators all see money at the end of a tunnel, it's hard to stop that snowball. They'll keep pushing, and tweaking, and spinning the story and the costs until they find a way to make it work (like Jerry Brown's tax hikes). This state is perpetually running a $20 billion deficit. How can we afford this?

They take $30 billion off the price tag, and it's still 75% over the original cost we were all told. I've heard from people "in the know" that the price will actually be twice that. Yikes.

Welcome to bankrupt California. Why would anyone want to go to LA anyway?

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Even this project does go forward, when was the last time the State did anything On TIME and ON BUDGET?

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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 4, 2012 at 9:36 am

I just love the Aston Martin Rapide. It is the most gorgeosu 4-dorr sedan I have ever seen. But at my income level it would not be a prudent purchase. This is because it would crowd out other things that are more important to me that I would like to purchase with my discretionary income.

There are several things wrong with the HSR.

1. It is truly a bait and switch

2. The HSR Commission has done nothing to validate its numbers. It just pulled the costs out of thin air, inflating the income estimates, and underestimating the procurement and operations and maintenance costs, not to mention the costs of servicing the bonds.

3. California is upside down with its budget deficit.

4. Programs such as Education, Earthquake Reponsiveness, Roads and Highways, and Dams would have their budgets trimmed back to support HSR.

Given the above it is imprudent at this time to fund HSR.

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Posted by Harrumphh
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

In other April Fools News, the State of California decided to reduce income taxes by 50%.

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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

They will never stop HSR from happenning.
I'm sure a lot of you fogies remember the antipathy for the Grand Coulee Dam when you were in rompers and probably not as rich or unsophisticated as you are today.
Well, thanks to that dam just happened to save a lot of people from starving during the depression and they had no opposition except from the money costs.
You people basically object to the noise of the train. Well, sorry to inform you, but HSR is going to be running through a lot of houses and mansions and parks and stables in order to save California.
You have lived long enough and it is now time for you to learn how to pass on your good fortunes to those in need.

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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm

It is rumored the savings comes from changing the routing. It will be coming to San Francisco in an almost straight line and avoiding a lot of mountain passes and the verdict will probably include the use of emininent domain for the direct route to the city.
San Francisco is now about the most expensive city in the country in which to live, and that will include nothing but big time money from all over the world who love the CITY BY THE BAY.
Our family home sold for 11 million in the 80' was only 8500 sq.ft.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Mr. Gordon:

you should know better. If you REALLY are old money. It is gauche to discuss your wealth.

By the way, HSR is certainly not going to be run as it was originally sold. Becasue it was sold with a pack of lies and 75% of the voters have figured it out.

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Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:05 pm

And it is declasse to even say the word gauche....very 20's.

I am not talking REAL money when I say 8 million. I am comparing property values to a really cosmopolitan atmosphere which is far more in tune than the suburbs.

I DID used to visit Lady Astor who told me about minding my manners and I do not think I erred.The editor will have his scissors out on this one since I am correct again. BUT, the HSR will survive unlike the Republic of Mitt...He built an elevator for his car as you know.
THAT is declasse during this recession.

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Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Irrespective of all other issues, we can't afford this train. The debt service alone will be huge enough to adversely impact other programs, such as schools. If the governor & legislature sell bonds in June, I will have to conclude that we don't need to vote for any new taxes whatsoever this November. Any politician who votes for selling these bonds, doesn't need my vote.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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