Taking as much of the ideological politics out of this article as possible, I agree with Emily Goff, but can no longer blame only the CHSRA for the mindless pursuit of this project in the face of overwhelming evidence that it ought to be terminated.
You can't blame the inmates for mismanaging the insane asylum.
At this point, I wish to place the burden of blame on the state's Democratic majority in the Senate and in the Assembly. I also wish to place blame on the state's governor, Jerry Brown.
At the national levels, responsibility for the persistence of this disastrous project rests with Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Congresswoman Pelosi, especially in the context of their Party Leadership roles.
You may ask why the rail authority persists in cranking out all their "falsehoods." It's simple; the truth would perform the function of terminating the project on the spot. In order to keep this project on the books and on track, lying is absolutely required.
Again, who believes these lies? It really doesn't matter. By now, no one. Therefore, a responsible government consisting of our representatives would, in respecting the truth, stop the project forthwith. Since they don't, we again have to ask why?
The word 'politics' alone is insufficient as an explanation. The CHSRA project, without the promise of $4 billion from the FRA, would be moribund. It would be nonfunctional. However, given the promise of those dollars and matched with an additional $2 + billion from the state bond issuance, the project now remains on the federal (and state) dole until those funds are used up. If there are to be no more funds, the project will have been nothing but a toilet for money, flushed down the drain and wasted.
However, thereby, the project, with or without further funding, will take on a life of its own. The tragedy is that,
1. it's an unjustified project, substantiated only with an array of false claims,
2. the funds to be consumed could have been used for far more worthy efforts, like repairing and maintaining existing infrastructure,
3. the promise of all the anticipated jobs, that promise the basic rationale for this project, is a cruel hoax,
4. it's the transfer of massive tax dollars from the people of the United States to those few who will benefit financially in California,
5. it will cost the people of California not only the carrying costs of the bond loans, but, perhaps in indirect ways, the subsidizing of the operation of this train if it's ever completed,
6. and, it will mitigate none of the compelling state problems despite all the claims to the contrary; claims such as traffic congestion, environmental deterioration, unemployment, infrastructure decline, and so forth.
We, the people of California, and of the United States, are being had. And our Democratic majority is aiding and abetting this crime against the people of the United States.
Emily Goff: Bullet train rides on falsehoods
By EMILY GOFF
Last week, the independent California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group recommended that the state legislature not proceed with funding the proposed Los Angeles–San Francisco project. Its argument was grounded in concerns about "the California High-Speed Rail Authority's plan to start construction without any assurance of future funding from the federal government," according to The Wall Street Journal.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority responded with a "you'll be sorry" statement, asserting that it will cost Californians more not to build the system. It argued that the cost of expanding airports and highways will total $171 billion, a sum much greater than the rail system's projected cost of $98 billion to $118 billion. This claim is questionable at best.
It also illuminates the methodological trickery woven into the rail supporters' argument.
As Wendell Cox and Joseph Vranich write in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, "Proponents based their estimate on train capacity (including empty seats) of 1,000. Their rail plan calls for trains with only 500 seats, but this fictional doubling of capacity nicely boosts the amount of highway construction they can claim would be needed if the train line isn't built. The authority also assumed that more than twice as many trains would run as they now plan to run when the line is complete.
They even include the cost of some highway expansions that would not be needed for hundreds of years at normal growth rates."
The bad assumptions do not end there. In their assessment, authority planners count on hyperbolic ridership levels. Their projections for new demand for high-speed rail travel are inflated, which allows them to claim that highways throughout the Los Angeles–San Francisco corridor would have to be expanded by three lanes – regardless of current demand and congestion levels.
The fabrication of facts has squelched the hype surrounding other high-speed rail projects. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) and Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) ended high-speed rail projects when it became known that the trains wouldn't exactly run at high speed. Cox described the demise of the proposed Tampa-to-Orlando rail line last year: Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) decided against funding this project, which would have put taxpayers on the hook for $3 billion in cost overruns plus operating subsidies.
High-speed rail remains one of the most costly forms of transportation. Heritage's Ronald Utt has enumerated the fiscal pitfalls, pointing to lower-than-expected ridership rates, rising ticket prices, and exorbitant government subsidies in other countries with high-speed rail systems. As is the case in California, the price tag for high-speed rail projects often exceeds original estimates and puts an additional burden on states and taxpayers already struggling in a weakened economy amid massive budget deficits. How irresponsible and misleading it is, then, of the authority to keep pushing for the California project, especially when the methodology supposedly bolstering its argument is anything but sound.
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