Thursday, December 22, 2011

I don't like it when my government relies on threats to get their way.  They are telling us, "If you don't do it our way (HSR), we will have to do it the more expensive and less desirable way(more highways and runways.)"  

Who says those alternatives are less desirable or more expensive?  That's bulllying taxpayers, and doing it with lies. There's a new movement in America against bullying, and I want to include the CHSRA in that group.

When the HSR cost forecast was $40 billion, the "undesirable" alternative was priced at $70 billion.  Now that the HSR costs are over $100 billion, suddenly we hear that the alternative highways and runways have also jumped up to  $170 billion. Excuse me? That's downright fraud upon the taxpayers and public.

Let's explain. 

One of the more prevalent arguments in favor of high-speed rail is that it will take huge amounts of traffic off our congested highways.  And, thereby more good stuff will happen subsequently; lower demand on "foreign oil," less air pollution, reduced traffic fatalities, and so on.

Therefore, wouldn't you think that we could go to those countries that have already built their high-speed rail systems to observe how effective those promises have worked out?  What could be more reassuring than seeing the highways empty out in Germany, France, Japan or China as their high-speed trains are packed full of passengers?

And, since we're at it, why not go to the country that President Obama admires so much for their high-speed trains, the country that has more miles of HSR track, thousands more, than any other country?

Like this view, below, of a 19 lane highway in China, with an additional entry ramp next to and underneath it.  I should add, from personal experience, entering Paris on the TGV and passing crammed highways feeding into the city during morning commute. They've had HSR for a long time, yet their highways are congested no less than ours.

So, I must challenge Mr. Richard and Mr. Rossi on the CHSRA Board, as they attempt to make the case that HSR will obviate the needs for increased highway capacity in California. . . . . . . . where did you get such a nonsensical idea?

Let's be absolutely clear. Whether building highways and runways become necessary construction obligations or not, with the absence of a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, is a completely illogical and nonsensical notion.  They can't be compared. HSR will not lighten the flying or driving expansion.  

Why not?  Because those transit modalities -- driving and flying, replaced rail and the transit modality of choice during the middle of the last century. Our transit and our transportation systems are demand driven. The freight rail operators make money because there is a demand for their services.

If we want to improve transit, we must improve driving and flying.  And thereby reassert our leadership once again; rather than the retrograde lust for back-to-the-future train sets. 

Passenger rail demand, even though there is an increase, is still low. Passenger rail had its Golden Age in the US. Amtrak's aspirations to the contrary notwithstanding still will not restore an era gone. 

It is the height of deception to claim that our failure to build this high-speed train line in California will obligate us to spend even more money on highway and runway expansion.

These are the same kinds of lies as the more-jobs lies.  We will have to build more highways and runways if there is a demand for them.  There is no demand for HSR.  Recent polls have demonstrated that. 

So, enough already about that 'If - Then' threat.  Be afraid; be very afraid if we don't get this train.  Yeah, right! 

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