Tuesday, March 8, 2011

California's Representative, Kevin McCarthy takes a strong oppositional stand against high-speed rail

OK, let's first get this out of the way.  Yes, the Weekly Standard is one of the Conservative house organs.  And yes, Fred Barnes is a spokesman for that side of the political equation.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, representing part of the Central Valley in California, is also part of the House coalition of Conservatives.

Now, let's move on.  McCarthy is right that private investment, once a promised corner-stone of the project's financing, is not going to happen. All that private/public partnership talk was just that; talk. The William Grindley papers, written with over 70 business and investment types, agrees with that position.

McCarthy isn't entirely correct with his cost projection, although he gets closer than the number the rail authority acknowledges.  The newest number is $66 billion.  But, we're not done counting yet.  As we've said many times, you can safely predict several multiples of the rail authority's numbers generated prior to any actual construction bids.

And no, Representative McCarthy is not the "first publicly elected official [in California] to come out opposed to it."  Assemblywoman Diane Harkey did just that during the last Legislative session.  McCarthy can well be the first Congressman, but even that's not entirely correct.  Congressman Tom McClintock has opposed high speed rail in California as far back as when it was merely a glint in the eye of Diridon, Kopp, Morshed and the early political promoters, including Jerry Brown.  But, it's a minor point and what I'm expecting is that McCarthy's leadership will compell other state elected officials to do the same; that is, work to terminate this project.

McCarthy is right about the ridership numbers proposed by the rail authority which are not merely wrong; they are ridiculous.  They are based on nothing more than wishful thinking and the need for advertising a highly questionable enterprise.  The rail authority may have dressed their ridership numbers up with complex mathematical modelling, but here the old truism holds true: Garbage in; garbage out.

As it happens, some of that $9 billion of California bond funding is already being spent on the current paperwork, design, etc. Also on administrative costs with a part of those funds going to contracts such as Ogilvy for PR and for TY Lin for management oversight.

Bottom line here?  I commend Representative McCarthy on his anti-HSR stand.  

Thank you sir, for appropriately representing the well-being of your constituency and your state.
California's Top Member of Congress Opposes Obama's High-Speed Rail Plan

Rep. Kevin McCarthy says thanks but no thanks.
11:00 AM, MAR 8, 2011


President Obama’s controversial plan for a high-speed rail system took a hit Tuesday as the top California member of Congress, House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, voiced strong opposition to building a new rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Though the line would run through his hometown of Bakersfield, McCarthy insisted it would be a bad investment, especially now with government debt soaring.

In California, the high-speed rail system would cost at least $60 billion just to build, then require a subsidy to operate, McCarthy said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “You would not invest your own money in it,” he told reporters.

He described himself as the “the first publicly elected official [in California] to come out opposed to it.” In Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida, Republican governors have turned down federal money to construct high-speed rail lines in their states.

McCarthy said the rail proposal is shaky because there’s no guarantee either that it would ultimately be built or that it would achieve the optimistic goals for ridership set by its proponents. In the Central Valley of California, he said, the rail plan calls for 14 million rider trips annually, compared with only 750,000 rail or plane trips taken there now each year.

Funds obligated today for the rail line fall far short of its expected overall cost. The state is supposed to spend $9 billion, but none of that money has been spent so far. The Obama administration has set aside $2 billion and more may come from high-speed funds that Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida have chosen to forego.