Again-this is article is a stated opinion of me and has no reflection on any opinion of the ECA as an organization or any individual members within the ECA. It is John Bly’s opinion. Period.
I have never supported the high-speed rail concept. It was misrepresented, underestimated, poorly (or not at all) conceptually designed, and would never deliver what the voters were promised. I mean-the claims back in 2008 were that the high-speed rail project would make air travel “obsolete”. Honest!
When Trump was President, he asked for $3.5 Billion back from California because the project was misrepresented when the funds were asked for and committed by the Feds. None of us believed that Newsom would quickly whip out his pen and write a check back to the Feds for lying about the costs and constructability of the project.
However, now that California is “awash” in extra cash, I think that is just what California should do. Shut it down and quit spending good money after bad. This project is, as Kevin O’Leary says on “Shark Tank”- “a dog and you should take it out behind the barn and shoot it”.
Just to be clear, let us go back if you have a few minutes, and read the Prop 1A campaign literature delivered to the California voters back in 2008:
The ballot summary for this measure was:
- Provides long-distance commuters with a safe, convenient, affordable, and reliable alternative to driving and high gas prices.
- Reduces traffic congestion on the state’s highways and at the state’s airports.
- Reduces California’s dependence on foreign oil.
- Reduces air pollution and global warming greenhouse gases.
- Establishes a clean, efficient 220 MPH transportation system.
- Improves existing passenger rail lines serving the state’s major population centers.
- Provides for California’s growing population.
- Provides for a bond issue of $9.95 billion to establish high-speed train service linking Southern California counties, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Provides that at least 90% of these bond funds shall be spent for specific construction projects, with private and public matching funds required, including, but not limited to, federal funds, funds from revenue bonds, and local funds.
- Requires that use of all bond funds be subject to independent audits.
- Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay bond principal and interest.
Fiscal impact statement
- State costs of about $19.4 billion, assuming 30 years to pay off both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5 billion) costs of the bonds. Payments of about $647 million per year.
- When constructed, additional unknown costs, probably more than $1 billion a year, to operate and maintain a high-speed train system. The costs would be at least partially, and potentially fully, offset by passenger fare revenues, depending on ridership.
And now for a “reality check””on current progress:
- The latest progress report for May 2021 can be accessed here— BuildHSR | California High-Speed Rail Authority | Construction Update
- The list of ongoing projects along with some great pictures can be found here- BuildHSR | California High-Speed Rail Authority | Projects | Highlights
- Jobs created and sustained by the high-speed rail project-claim is 5,000 jobs, reality is more like 1,000 jobs-to read a good editorial by the great Dan Walters, click here- Dan Walters: Inflated job numbers prop up bullet train | State & Regional | hanfordsentinel.com
- Gavin Newsom just committed another $4.2 billion (story here in link- Here’s How Newsom Wants To Spend California’s Historic Budget Surplus – capradio.org)
and had some “reality comments” about scaling down the scope and size of the overall completed project–to read Governor Newsom’s comments, click here- California Gov. Newsom pulls plug on high-speed train project – Bing video
- To date-over $6 Billion has been spent, and another $4.2 Billion has just been earmarked to keep the train project moving -even in its diminished state. The new plan is for the rail project to be constructed from Merced to Bakersfield. Yep-that is it. And it will take another estimated 10 years to build it, and another $60-70 Billion to fund it. Yikes.
I understand it is a tough sell to get the Governor to pull the plug and fully realize the billions spent on the high-speed train are 100% wasted-but he still should do it. Many will say that it is important to complete it on behalf of climate change issues-but I am not buying what they are selling. With the miniscule ridership that will theoretically ride the train (if or when it is completed), from Merced to Bakersfield, so few cars will be removed from the road as to make the operation of the train about as damaging to the atmosphere as the cars that train riders eliminate from the roads.
Instead of a traditional train whistle as the train drives slowly through those Central Valley cities, the train should instead amplify a giant drain sucking sound so everyone readily identifies with how its operation will have to be funded for the next 50 years.
So, what am I going to do about it? I will write to a few electeds that they should “pushback” on this boondoggle and use the billions of dollars for more useful infrastructure spending (like fixing Highway 37!!!!).
And guess what-they will not listen to me.
That’s all folks!