A Most Insightful High Speed Rail Headline

Russ Steele

California Rail Fail: Captain Brown and the Great White Train

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD

California’s bullet train is going off the rails, and the overseers are running for cover. The WSJ reports that Roelof van Ark, the chief executive, and Thomas Umberg, the chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, announced they will step down from their posts as the odds against the project grow longer.

The highly indebted, cash strapped state has commitments of $3.3 billion of federal money in hand against the roughly $100 billion that the train is now estimated to cost (the price will certainly go even higher).  Voters authorized almost $10 billion in bonds in a referendum, but that was when the train looked much cheaper and more federal funding was available. Since then the cost estimates more than doubled to $99 billion, ridership estimates have been slashed indicating that the completed system will require unending subsidies, and Congress has stopped voting new funds for high speed rail.

To make matters even worse, the federal funds that are available can only be used for a “spur” out into the Central Valley, rather than the main line from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  The “spur” is the least needed, least wanted and least useful part of the system and will never generate significant traffic.  There are, in other words, federal funds to help with the part of the system that nobody really wants, and the heavily indebted state must find at least $70 billion to fund the rest.

You can read the rest HERE.

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

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