Patterico's Pontifications

3/12/2018

Confirmed: California High-Speed Rail Will Be Delayed and Overbudget

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:06 pm

[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: I added a rail map from the HSRA. Should have thought to have done that earlier.

In a move that surprised absolutely no one, an audit of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the group tasked with building the voter-approved taxpayer-funded “bullet train” from San Diego to San Francisco via Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Fresno has determined that the project will cost significantly more than initially believed and will be delayed at least thirteen years from the original target completion date promised to voters when the project was approved.

We Californians in our infinitesimal wisdom approved the high-speed train project in 2008 through Proposition 1A, a ballot initiative approved in the same rancid election that brought the nation Barack Obama, Al Franken, Alan Grayson, and Jared Polis. Prop 1A called for California to sell bonds to raise about $10 billion to initiate the project, with the rest of the $45 billion total estimated cost covered by other state funding sources, local funds in each city through which the rail would pass, private investment, and, of course, Uncle Sucker in Washington. Proponents of the plan included all of the chamber of commerce types, the union bosses, and urbanists who fetishize public transport. Governor Schwarzenegger (who was working feverishly to get back in the good graces of his lefty Hollywood friends) endorsed the plan, as did pretty much all of the state’s legislative Democrats. Lavish promises were made: Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and forty minutes, Downtown San Diego to Downtown Los Angeles in 80 minutes, fares less-expensive than corresponding flight tickets, ridership that would be at least 65 million rides per year and perhaps as much as 95 million rides, and — best of all! — the project once complete would be self-sustaining, i.e. the annual passenger revenue would equal the operational costs. This was such an obvious load of horse manure that only Californians could have fallen for it, and indeed we did. The bill to place Proposition 1A on the ballot passed the Assembly by a 58-15 margin and sailed through the Senate on a 27-10 vote with a handful of Republicans in each legislative body joining in support of the project. In the November election, Prop 1A was approved by a much more narrow 52.6% to 47.4% margin, suggesting that California voters are a hell of a lot smarter than their leaders, if not quite smart enough to derail the bullet train.

And now, ten years in, the shillelagh of buyer’s remorse has smashed into the kneecap of our dreams. The bi-annual status report mandated by the legislation (the one useful thing Republicans demanded in return for their support) now acknowledges that the Anaheim to San Francisco portion of the route, originally scheduled to open in 2020 (yeah, two years from now) will now be delayed until 2029. In a cruel irony, that is one year after Los Angeles is scheduled to host the 2028 Summer Olympics, meaning the High Speed Rail Authority now plans to miss its golden opportunity to reach a huge international Disneyland-Dystopia potential ridership (Europeans and Asians who love bullet train travel!) in a tourism-heavy summer. Instead, we’re hoping to have San Jose to Bakersfield ready to go in 2024 and then if everything goes strictly to plan maybe the San Francisco to San Jose segment ready by 2029.

Map from California High-Speed Rail Authority

Map from California High-Speed Rail Authority

Naturally, the cost of building the Anaheim-San Fran Line has now ballooned to $77.3 billion, and that of course does not include the costs for extensions to San Diego and Sacramento. Moreover, the HSRA admits that figure is an estimate and that the project could cost anywhere from a low-end of $63.2 billion (best-case scenario which includes steady progress and no unforeseen setbacks) to a high-end of $98.1 billion (worst-case scenario which reflects the way these things are likely to go). In the financing section of the HSRA Report (pretty interesting reading/scanning if you can plow through about 100 pages) is an explicit warning about the project’s funding:

To date, the Authority has secured significant funds from both state and federal sources. These funds are being used to deliver the Central Valley Segment and complete environmental planning and other early work for the entire Phase 1 [Anaheim-San Fran] System, consistent with our federal grant agreements. However, as we describe in this section, the challenges of funding a transportation system of this magnitude are significant and actions still need to be taken to secure a long-term funding and nancing strategy that can help us deliver the full Silicon Valley to Central Valley Line.

The Authority is currently operating on a pay-as-you-go funding approach which means that contracts are let as funding is received. However, the continuation of this approach indefinitely will not support our delivery schedule. This is because the large contracts needed for the Silicon Valley to Central Valley Line — such as track and systems, rolling stock and tunnel construction — are greater than the funds that the Authority anticipates having at the time those contracts need to be executed to meet the 2029 completion schedule. To proceed with these contracts the Authority needs to be able to rely on a steady stream of future funds that provide certainty to long term contracting partners.

And there you have it, taxpayers: the HSRA has money to build the Bakersfield to Madera section (estimated now at $10.6 billion, up from the original $6 billion) but pretty much nothing else, not even the money to complete the Madera to Merced add-on which requires building a 13-mile tunnel at Pacheco Pass in the Diablo Mountain Range. As mentioned earlier, the state sold $10 billion in bonds to kick-start the project after Prop 1A passed. During the first term of the Obama Administration, California was given federal funding of about $6.25 billion, but nothing further has come from Uncle Sucker and it doesn’t appear that the Trump Administration or a GOP-led Congressional chamber will reopen those spigots. Other funding has come from Governor Jerry Brown pushing to have one-quarter of the cap-and-trade funds allocated to the project. Of course, Gov. Moonbeam and his allies estimated this to amount to about $600 million per year expecting emissions trading credits to bring in $2.4 billion annually, but expectations have naturally fallen short of the mark leaving a hole in the state funding. Some local governments have chipped in in a parochial way, with cities such as Anaheim and San Mateo spending money to build new transit centers and help clear the way for new high-speed rail track by removing no-longer used track, but those efforts even lumped together have been fairly paltry. And private enterprise has simply not as yet answered the call (the HSRA report delicately suggests that private companies are waiting for the completion days to come closer). I’m sure that rail stations will make a nice bit of coin renting space to McDonalds and Apple, but given that the funding mix was supposed to be 33% from local & state government, 33% from the federal government, and 33% from private enterprise, I’m having a hard time seeing those rents and whatever Google and Apple kick in so their employees can move out of their shared barracks in Los Gatos and move out to the Central Valley (now only an hour away by bullet train!) make up for the massive shortfall that this HSRA report acknowledges.

As with so many other cases in which the central planners throw their lot in with the smart set and then use the political fixers to implement their dreams, the reality of high-speed rail in California is almost certain to fall woefully short of the extravagant promises made on its behalf. Even the zealous boosters at the California High Speed Rail Blog have fallen silent, last blogging over ten months ago. The idea in and of itself isn’t a horrible one, but in an era where big government fails at the most basic of tasks it is delusional to expect it to competently manage a project as massive and intricate as this one.

One and one-third centuries ago, Henry Morrison Flagler began the process of consolidating and building a trans-Florida railroad that would eventually run from Jacksonville to Key West. He completed the project in just about a quarter-century, including time lost when hurricanes destroyed key bridges forcing rebuilds, and he more or less exhausted his fortune in the process. Though the railroad no longer exists and the bridges from Key Largo to Key West were largely destroyed by 200 mile-per-hour winds from a Labor Day weekend hurricane in 1935, the bridge spans that Flagler built were repurposed in building Highway 1 along the abandoned train route, immortalizing Flagler’s heroic work. (Excellent book about Flagler and the railroad here.) With Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (estimated net worth of $71 billion), Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google (each checking it at just under $50 billion, Elon Musk ($20 billion), and others leading the way, why not a privately-built high-speed rail for the Golden State?

Cross-posted over at the Jury Talks Back.

– JVW

66 Responses to “Confirmed: California High-Speed Rail Will Be Delayed and Overbudget”

  1. And yeah, I know the answer to my final question is “Because private investors aren’t willing to be tied up for years by bureaucracy and lawsuits.” This is the fate we have chosen for ourselves.

    JVW (42615e)

  2. The odd thing is the general contractor has done projects all through out Europe, its only in California that he sunk into a swamp.

    narciso (d1f714)

  3. does this factor in the hyper-inflated costs imposed by the onerous and draconian steel tariffs

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  4. Unlikely, pokachu, this project was designed by the chimps laid off from writing hamlet

    narciso (d1f714)

  5. does this factor in the hyper-inflated costs imposed by the onerous and draconian steel tariffs

    Let’s take that high-end $98.1 billion number and round it up to an even $100 billion. I like the idea of getting into the twelve figures with this ridiculous project. It will pair very nicely with our $400 billion annual single-payer health care costs.

    JVW (42615e)

  6. good lord

    and dirty maid-screwing steroid-abuser Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to sue oil companies?

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  7. From the Dog Trainer article, narciso:

    A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, who since the 1980s has championed high-speed rail, said the disclosures do not change the strong support he expressed in his recent State of the State address, when he said: “I make no bones about it. I like trains and I like high-speed trains even better.”

    So there we have it: the governor has taken to defending the project with the language and logic of a seven-year-old.

    JVW (42615e)

  8. That’s a pony, the size of a kaiju

    narciso (d1f714)

  9. No choo-choo? Aww!

    nk (dbc370)

  10. Juh-wrey want his choo-choo!

    JVW (42615e)

  11. And now, ten years in, the shillelagh of buyer’s remorse has smashed into the kneecap of our dreams.

    If only that were the case. This assumes that all of this comes as a surprise. It’s not, least of all to the politicos that voted for it. Intentional deception is the only way these boondoggles get hatched. There’s nothing new here.

    random viking (6a54c2)

  12. There is a devastating article about California’s future, and the future as envisioned by Calif Tech Oligarchs.

    I think the publication was in City Journal ??.

    Basically, the view of the Tech giants is that they will make massive amounts of money, they will employ people in Calif. on more or less part time basis in their businesses, the Calif. gov’t will supplement this income so that people at least enjoy a minimum quality of living, and they will be allowed to import as much cheap foreign labor as possible to make their companies profitable with low labor costs, and to staff the service industry that makes their food, cuts their grass, and fixes their cars.

    The “creative” class will rule society, while everyone else lives “comfortably” while tending to their needs and wants.

    shipwreckedcrew (56b591)

  13. UPDATE: I added a rail map from the HSRA. Should have thought to have done that earlier.

    JVW (42615e)

  14. the map shows you how the rich people in los angeles keep that goddamn train at arm’s length plus 15-20 miles

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  15. The idea in and of itself isn’t a horrible one, but in an era where big government fails at the most basic of tasks it is delusional to expect it to competently manage a project as massive and intricate as this one.

    Yet, somehow, the governments of Japan, France, China and others have all managed it.

    Are these countries greater than the United States? We were promised America would be great, again!

    Maybe if President Macron of France takes Spanky for a ride on the TGV next Bastille Day, he’ll decide that he MUST. HAVE. ONE, just like the military parade last year…

    Dave (445e97)

  16. We’re talking San angeles dave,

    narciso (d1f714)

  17. First off, who-the-filtertrigger is Jared Polis? I have no memory of the name.

    Second, in response to Dave, remember the countries you name have far more centralized, statist governments than we have here. France tells retailers when they can put their stock on sale, for instance. Also remember that, excluding China, these countries are smaller than California. The distance from north to south borders of California is about twice the distance between the north and south boundaries of France….

    Kishnevi (ad27e2)

  18. didn’t he molest sandwiches and try to take them across state lines

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  19. Congressman from Colorado, where are more car keys?

    narciso (d1f714)

  20. Yet, somehow, the governments of Japan, France, China and others have all managed it.

    How come you don’t mention Spain, Dave? Is it because the Spanish high-speed rail system cost way more than projected and didn’t get nearly as many riders as promised, and thus had to cut back service and raise ticket prices to the point where lots of Spanish citizens grumble that it is now only for rich urban commuters? That sounds to me a whole lot like what we are going to be experiencing here when the project only manages to build the San Jose to Central Valley line before going flat broke. Yeah, the tech companies can then subsidize it up until they leave California for lower tax states.

    And this isn’t an American project, Dave, it’s a Californian project. And seeing as how California politics are now dominated by public union employees, grievance groups, hardcore greens, and wealthy lifestyle liberals, I don’t think there are going to be any grown-ups making sure that nothing goes awry with this boondoggle.

    JVW (42615e)


  21. Are these countries greater than the United States? We were promised America would be great, again!


    Dave stop. Trump has nothing to do with the train. Your inability to control your TDS is annoying. Let me point out that taking 19the century technology and making it faster and look modern is not making America great. Going to Mars is. And spending $100million on this nonsense is leftist featherbedding and nothing more. Every democrat has a chunk of the “retirement fund”.

    Rev.Hoagie (1b0402)

  22. Kish, Jared Polis is the Boulder, CO congressman who famously decided that if campus rape tribunals occasionally expelled someone innocent of the charge then that was a small price to pay in the name of making coeds feel safe.

    JVW (42615e)

  23. I blocked out polis’ s favorite crimethink

    narciso (d1f714)

  24. JVW, thanks.


    Dave stop. Trump has nothing to do with the train. Your inability to control your TDS is annoying. Let me point out that taking 19the century technology and making it faster and look modern is not making America great

    Given that Trump’s idea of Great America seems very mid20th century (as evidenced by tariffs that protect the industry that defined America c 1950 but does not come close to doing so now) Dave has every right to think Trump would want to get on board* with high speed trains.

    *Atrocious pun intended.

    Kishnevi (e95dc4)

  25. … why not a privately-built high-speed rail for the Golden State?

    Railways were a pet hobby of Walt’s and he put a monorail in Disneyland– and the cost of admission to the happiest place on Earth still keeps climbing. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  26. But think of all the tourists who can now travel from Palmdale, famous for its sand storms and kiler pit bulls, to Bakersfield, and its great shishkebab, and on to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in record time…well, actually, regular slow time.

    Patricia (3363ec)

  27. you can’t trust pussyhat canada to sell you steel in time of war

    they won’t even create a pipeline for their own oil in peacetime

    (they’re obscene degenerates)

    so our president, President Donald Trump, feels we should have some domestic steel-making capacity

    that said

    our corrupt tranny-trash joke military isn’t up to a real war no matter how much steel they have access to

    this is obvious to anyone who is willing to do the analysis

    but President Donald Trump, he’s nothing if not optimistic that’s for sure

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  28. Elon Musk ($20 billion)…

    For a highspeed train? This, from a fella trying to peddle non-flammable electric cars under $30K in direct competition. Peculiar. And plans on soaring to Mars in a a year or two. More peculiar. When he takes the financial risk and launches a human being (aka ‘biological cargo’ in commercial space parlance) into Earth orbit and returns the ‘cargo’ unfried and alive, on his own dime w/o government to cover his corporate tail feathers in case there’s a ‘bad day,’ get back to me.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  29. Don’t forget that Musk also wants to tunnel underground throughout the U.S. and install a ultra-high-speed rail that will presumably go Mach 3 or the speed of light or something. That’s exactly the kind of guy I want throwing his own money at the project; agreed with you regarding keeping him away from government subsidies.

    JVW (42615e)

  30. “why not a privately-built high-speed rail for the Golden State?”

    No kickbacks, that’s why.

    Bunkie Nude Son (5a4596)

  31. @30. Yes, well that comes back to Earth fast when capital market valuation of these ‘ideas’ comes into play. It ends up not being just ‘his’ money– and private enterprise usually can’t wait on that kind of longer time frame for any reasonable ROI in a quarterly driven marketplace. Not that there’s anything wrong with spit balling great ideas about them. Thing is, his ‘grand projects’ inevitably seek some kind of ‘CYA’ gov’t subsidies in the end to get them off the drawing board. But SpaceX does deserve much credit for reducing the cost-per-pound to get payloads on orbit; something the shuttle was supposed to do but didn’t; w/some exceptional engineering by young, creative minds– but that too was subsidized and seeded w/gov’t contracting. When he gets somebody up, around and down safely on his own dime is the day he’ll fully win over many.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  32. I’m having a hard time seeing those rents and whatever Google and Apple kick in so their employees can move out of their shared barracks in Los Gatos and move out to the Central Valley (now only an hour away by bullet train!) make up for the massive shortfall

    I’m sure expanding the Bay area population into the valley is on their mind, but they better not get too far ahead of themselves. We don’t have the water. The river water is at 100% allocation, and the farmers are having to go 2,500 feet for a good well while the ground is dropping about a foot a year.

    By 2029 water will cost more than gas, and they’ll be estimating the train first phase completion around 2050.

    Ah, why am I worried? Surely we’re done with drought!

    the Bas (3bcea0)

  33. Too bad they flushed a third of it into the sea, to save the smelt

    narciso (d1f714)

  34. The irony is the technologies at one end of the line may be obsolete at the other end by the time the project is fully operational.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  35. 34.Too bad they flushed a third of it into the sea, to save the smelt

    That’s a bait fish in NJ, too.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  36. For this kind of money you could solve L.A.’s traffic problems. We need about 100 miles of subway for starters. If Musk et al want to do something useful, that would be the way to go. Oh, wait, that’s what Musk is doing!

    Kevin M (752a26)

  37. We MUST name this the Moonbeam Express.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  38. Too bad they flushed a third of it into the sea, to save the smelt

    It’s not even a real species, it’s a slightly different colored version of a species that is plentiful elsewhere. There is no earthly value to it except it is different. The entire idea behind protecting species to to protect biodiversity, but there is NONE of that here. It’s just a local failure.

    But the law is an absolute. Who would have thought it was the Party of Reason that supports Unintelligent Design over evolution?

    Kevin M (752a26)

  39. The Bas, if you live in California, my chamber of commerce advert in the other thread is ooen to you.

    Kishnevi (e95dc4)

  40. That stupid smelt isn’t even a native fish.

    Sorry Kishnevi, don’t know what you are referring to.

    the Bas (3bcea0)

  41. There remains a serious effort to build a fast train between Houston, Dallas, and Austin/San Antonio. There are significant differences in what’s being proposed here and the California fast train — supposedly more private financing, certainly lower costs per mile for property acquisition and construction. As the (consistently liberally biased) Texas Tribune (nevertheless accurately) reported in a year-end legislative review last December:

    A private company’s plans for a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston has brought cheers from officials in the state’s two biggest urban regions. But rural Texans whose land is likely needed for the project continue to oppose the plans.

    Texas Central vows to build the project, which could cost $12 billion or more, without taking public dollars other than loans. [Sic — “other than loans,” heh! I don’t know if this was said without irony, but I doubt that it was reported without irony. — Beldar] The 240-mile train line promises to shuttle passengers between downtown Dallas and northwest Houston in 90 minutes on train cars that travel up to 205 mph.

    And after years of uncertainty about which route the trains would take, rural Texans last week final got their clearest idea yet of what land may be needed for the project. the Federal Railroad Administration released a draft environmental impact statement that narrowed the potential routes down to one. Texans will now have the chance to formally weigh in on the project – and its potential impact on land throughout the state.

    Rural Texans pushed lawmakers to kill the project earlier this year. And several legislators collectively filed a litany of bills aimed at doing just that. But by the time the regular session wrapped up, Texas Central’s plans remained largely unscathed.

    That doesn’t mean the fight is over. Opponents maintain that legal questions about whether Texas Central can use eminent domain persist. And Ben Leman, who leads opposition group Texans Against High-Speed Rail, is running for an open Texas House seat next year.

    My sense is that opposition is growing, although if Republicans continue a drunken-sailor spending spree and give Trump a $1B stimulus to spread around, all bets at least have to be recalculated. As devoted opponent of all such boondoggles, I’m hopeful that reports like the latest one from California will discourage the fans of the Texas fast train, and re-energize its opponents.

    In other Texas news, the spectacularly underperforming, but now squarely nominated, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate from Texas, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) apparently gave a weekend interview at Austin’s SXSW music festival in which he called for an outright ban of AR-15s, calling them weapons of mass death with utterly no use but slaughtering people on battlefields. He dropped a F’bomb of his own on the NRA and all its members and supporters in the next sentence.

    I do expect that this interview will raise his name recognition spectacularly — among Texas Republicans, who themselves set a record primary turnout despite the absence of a single close state-wide race. Indeed, I suspect with that one interview, he’s approximately tripled the number of Texas Republicans who’d crawl over broken glass on hands and knees to vote against Beto O’Rourke.

    The flipside: Letting it all hang out — he’ll probably come out for repeal of the Second Amendment before November — will encourage out-of-state Dems to send him more money in their futile fantasy that Beto’s going to unseat their Ultimate Prince of Darkness Sen. Ted Cruz. Those bucks won’t be going to Senate races in places like Missouri or Florida or West Virginia, etc. Win-Win!

    Beldar (fa637a)

  42. Ok Kishnevi, I think I found what you are talking about.

    Florida huh? Well, the wife and I are talking about getting the heck outta here, even though we live in one of the most red counties in the state. I’ve mostly been thinking anywhere between Utah and North Carolina, but Florida might be worth looking at too. Never been there, but I’m under the impression y’all have a heaping helping of lunatics there too though. I’m more inclined towards a state with less population density. Like Wyoming, only without the nine months of winter a year.

    the Bas (3bcea0)

  43. Florida is fine if you stay away from Miami, Tampa, Orlando (any of the big cities), and Ocala. I swear, every psych patient I ever saw from Florida hailed from Ocala. To the best of my recollection, this is not an exaggeration. Not sure what it is about that city, but wow, something is definitely wrong there.

    Stashiu3 (466cdf)

  44. Errata #42: I misspoke. Apparently this time Beto only dropped a sh!t-bomb, not an f-bomb. As to the latter, however, he has an impressive highlights reel already.

    I am the son of a sailor who was himself the son of a sailor, and from that perspective, I feel very sorry for poor Beto, who — like so many comprehensive amateurs at life — cannot manage to construct an insult or a curse or an intensifier without reflexively going for the f-bomb. ¡Pobrecito!

    Beldar (fa637a)

  45. How come you don’t mention Spain, Dave?

    Because I’ve never been to Spain, and know nothing about their rail system, for good or bad.

    OTOH, I have traveled on the Japanese and French high-speed trains multiple times.

    I made my comment because what you said seemed like a silly, overly broadbrush argument:

    “The idea in and of itself isn’t a horrible one, but in an era where big government fails at the most basic of tasks it is delusional to expect it to competently manage a project as massive and intricate as this one.”

    It seems apparent that this project has been mismanaged, or at least planned with wild over-optimism at the outset.

    But we put a man on the moon 50 years ago. 75 years ago we sent millions of well-armed and well-equipped men all over the world to fight on nearly every front, created factories almost overnight to churn out 60,000 advanced aircraft models a year, and launched a navy larger than the rest of the world combined, while also building the first nuclear reactor and the first atomic bombs.

    Project management is a solved problem. There are many examples of well-managed large projects, and many examples of poorly managed ones. I think this one fell apart not because it was too big or too complicated, but because the people who planned it didn’t do a very good job.

    Dave (445e97)

  46. We MUST name this the Moonbeam Express.

    Kevin M (752a26) — 3/12/2018 @ 8:51 pm

    I think I would prefer to call it the “Brown Streak”.

    Bill H (383c5d)

  47. I’m more inclined towards a state with less population density. Like Wyoming, only without the nine months of winter a year.

    the Bas (3bcea0) — 3/12/2018 @ 10:08 pm

    May I interest you in Tennessee? It’s mostly green year round except when your neighbors don’t bush hog and it only really snowed twice this year.

    Pinandpuller (f93602)

  48. I honestly thought Sally Jesse Raphael was running for governor but it was only Marcia Blackburn.

    Pinandpuller (f93602)

  49. You can catch it if you want to ride
    Don’t you worry if it pass you by
    You can catch it if you want to ride
    Don’t you worry if it pass you by
    Lord you know it’s Jerry Brown
    If kings were fools he’d wear the crown
    Train I ride goes to God knows where
    I don’t know and I don’t care
    Train I ride goes to God knows where
    I don’t know and I don’t care
    If you aint got money don’t despair
    ‘Cause you don’t have to pay no fare
    Please now brother don’t you ride this train
    Ride the wrong rails, live your life in vain
    Please now brother don’t you ride this train
    Ride the wrong rails, live your life in vain

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  50. Breaking- Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Mike Pompeo to be Sec. of Sate. Gina Hapel to head CIA. Stormy sees…

    So long, Pardner.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  51. Haspel. Typo.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  52. I will say this for Haspel…her Wikipedia page doesn’t say anything about where shes from or where she went to school, that’s taking the job seriously.

    Incoming SOS Pompeo was part of the ItalianAmerican Congressional Caucus, don’t hold it against him.

    urbanleftbehind (ddcc04)

  53. Bullet train? This leftist boondoggle is no such thing – look at the map and count the number of stations then note their proximity to each other.

    It won’t matter how fast the train goes between stations, the time spent gaining speed, slowing to stop way too often, loading and unloading passangers and luggage will result in a slow, expensive, and frustrating experience.

    The only way to make it work is to cut the number of stations down to half a dozen: San Diego, LA, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, and Sacramento. But then the project looses political legitimacy and the massive public expenditures can’t begin to be justified.

    Best option is to put the project up for bids and see if the private sector will save California’s bacon. If not, shut it down and walk away – never throw good money after bad even if it belongs to the taxpayers.

    ropelight (29af38)

  54. Also anytime there’s a “Hook” route involved (the Phase 2 doing double duty to Berdoo then down to San Diego), its the kiss of death i.e. Metra’s ill-fated STAR line. The project was dropped upon further analysis showed comparable service could be provided at a lower cost by express bus and demand-based van from the proposed station areas.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  55. It seems apparent that this project has been mismanaged, or at least planned with wild over-optimism at the outset.

    No, what happened here is that the pro-HSR forces bald-faced lied about their ability to deliver, both in terms of timeframe and budget. The only other possible explanation is that they are terminally stupid to believe that the project wouldn’t have run into countless lawsuits from environmental groups, neighborhood groups, anti-tax groups, etc. So liars or idiots: take your pick. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

    I’m tired of this idea that you can pile up any mount of horse excrement that you want, serve it up to the gullible public, get 51% of them to vote for it, then once your BS has been exposed you just shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, in for a penny; in for a pound.” There needs to be real consequences when projects like this fail on such a massive level, and pulling the plug on this horribly bad undertaking is the only way to properly treat it.

    JVW (42615e)

  56. Yet, somehow, the governments of Japan, France, China and others have all managed it.

    China’s bullet trains are a national disgrace; a collection of white elephants that only a one-party state like China or California could build.

    France (and Europe) have trains because Europe is far more compact and flying makes less sense (also airlines have enjoyed the higher fares that rent-seeking socialist management allows).

    Japan’s rail system is competitive. There are multiple private rail segments in cities, with common ticketing with the national and local systems.

    The CA project is ideological and devoid of economic sense. It’s a “flying is bad for Gaia” thing, when the ENERGY cost of the rail system (and the destruction of farmland) will never be recovered by the supposed traffic, let alone the lesser traffic the will get.

    In the end, this will be a train from Merced to Modesto, used by no one, and will be mothballed almost immediately IF it is even built. I expect that it will be cancelled the day after Brown leaves office.

    Kevin M (752a26)

  57. I live in Maryland. Every couple of years they talk about running a Mag-Lev train through my neighborhood. They’re at it again.

    Joe Miller (64cdc0)

  58. I’m tired of this idea that you can pile up any mount of horse excrement that you want, serve it up to the gullible public, get 51% of them to vote for it, then once your BS has been exposed you just shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, in for a penny; in for a pound.” There needs to be real consequences when projects like this fail on such a massive level, and pulling the plug on this horribly bad undertaking is the only way to properly treat it.

    I take it you include Spanky’s border wall, which was sold to the “gullible public” as totally cost-free and is already $19B over-budget, in this category? Although, to be fair, only 46% voted for this particular mountain of excrement…

    Dave (445e97)

  59. I suppose the plan is that passengers who get off the train (and many who come to the train) will use the Uber bicycle app to get to their final destination or get to the train. Or – they don’t have that plan?

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  60. 55. ropelight (29af38) — 3/13/2018 @ 7:40 am

    It won’t matter how fast the train goes between stations, the time spent gaining speed, slowing to stop way too often, loading and unloading passengers and luggage will result in a slow, expensive, and frustrating experience.

    They could pay somewhere else before the train arrives; let passengers board themselves through many doors; carry their own luggage, if any; limit the time the doors are open at atops; and dispense with security.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  61. Completely off-topic but the PAC-12 is out of the NCAA basketball tournament on the first day. First time a major conference has gone out like this, and it is even worse to me because the PAC-12 is the home of the UCLA program. It’s been painfully obvious the PAC-12 is horrible this year, but it is sad to see a conference with so much history fall so far.

    DRJ (15874d)

  62. 63… on that, we agree. Long gone are the days of John Wooden and his Pyramid of Success.

    Colonel Haiku (33b771)

  63. That basketball program’s dominance will never be matched.

    Colonel Haiku (33b771)

  64. One of my old work colleagues is a diehard UCLA fan. His organization held a yearly engineering conference with a guest speaker and one year, it was John Wooden. The Division manager of the org was a USC grad and he and my buddy had a playful rivalry over the years. This guy arranged for my buddy to provide transportation for Coach Wooden and his assistant to and from the conference. My friend drove them and had a great time talking with the coach that he will treasure for the rest of his life.

    Colonel Haiku (33b771)


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