Patterico's Pontifications

2/13/2020

Keeping You Updated on the Bullet Train to Nowhere

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:16 pm



[guest post by JVW]

It’s my curse in life to wander the state as a crusty old man, inveighing against the disastrous California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans to build “bullet trains” up and down the state. You can read my past lamentations here, here, and here, and the boss has chimed in a couple of times to register his displeasure with the project here and here.

So naturally you have figured out that I am setting you up for yet more aggravating news about this boondoggle of boondoggles, and you, dear reader, have surmised correctly. News came yesterday that the costs of the project have risen by an additional $1 billion while we dither on whether or not we want to fund the damn thing or finally put it out of its misery. If you want to find the silver lining in things, the $1 billion increase for this past year is only half of the increase estimate from last year, so perhaps we’re making progress!

In any case, the total price tag of this fiasco is now estimated at $80.3 billion, up from $77 billion back in 2018 which was up from $64 billion two years earlier. Just as a fun reminder, when my foolish fellow Californians (all you guys excluded, of course) voted for this cockamamie idea back in 2008, the project cost was set at under $34 billion, and the San Francisco-Anaheim portion of the line was scheduled to open up for service this year. Now the rail authority is reckoning we’ll be riding from the Golden Gate Bridge to Disneyland by 2033, even as they admit the Silicon Valley to Central Valley portion — which is supposed to be the proof of concept testing — won’t be fully operational until 2031, an 18-month delay from the last estimate.

I would guess that if there were a secret ballot vote taken that the California Legislature would probably vote to ditch this monstrosity, but it is beloved by the twee progressive urbanites (or at least the ones who don’t live near the rail lines), the government employee unions, the railroad construction industry and its unionized workers, and central planners everywhere. Accordingly, though legislative leaders on the Democrat side go through the pro forma motions of expressing “disappointment” and “concern” about the missed deadlines and soaring budget, they refuse to pull the plug on the project and put us all out of our misery. Republican legislators, to their credit, appear to be united in their desire to kill the project, even the Central Valley legislators whose districts are supposedly benefiting from the work on the rail line.

Today’s California, with that “we can do it if you give us lots and lots of time and tons and tons of money” spirit.

– JVW

29 Responses to “Keeping You Updated on the Bullet Train to Nowhere”

  1. I guess the real story that I am overlooking is that urban Democrats are making plans to raid the HSRA coffers and use the money on existing public transportation lines such as CalTrans, Metro LA, and BART. This is mentioned in the link that I provided. I hope the taxpayers have the good sense to take them to court for that nonsense.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. Here’s another great thing to keep track of: when the voters passed the HSRA plan, the cost of a one-way Los Angeles to San Francisco ticket was pegged at roughly $50. Just four years later, a study critical of the plan estimated that in order to offset operating costs that same ticket would need to be sold for $86. I wonder what the new cost is eight years from the last estimate. Anyone want to bet that it is still under $100? According to the HSRA charter, the system has to operate without public subsidies, so their expenses must be met by revenue.

    Just to put that cost in perspective, as of today I can purchase a round-trip plane ticket from LAX to SFO for under $150 provided I buy it two weeks before my travel date.

    What’s bound to happen, of course, is that if this boondoggle every gets built the legislature will either pass legislation waiving the requirement of financial independence, or else if they can’t do it without authorization from the public they will run a very slick and dishonest campaign guilt-tripping us into throwing away good money after bad.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  3. And? California is a one-party state. Its going full-bore socialist. Due to the sainted Immigrants. So hard-working. So left-wing. They’ll be a lot more fraud, waste and abuse in the future.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  4. Why would anyone consider themselves conservative/libertarian and still live in Commiefornia?

    Gryph (08c844)

  5. @4 Good question. I decamped to Reno about a decade ago, and am loving it. Oh, I still go “over the hill” periodically for wining, dining, and socializing in the Bay Area, but as for residency, I prefer the 2nd-amendment-supporting, affordable real estate, tax haven of Nevada.

    norcal (a5428a)

  6. JVW,

    Golden Staters should have realized that with all the environmental regulations, NIMBYism, unions, and multi-layered government that is and has been California for a very long time, the bullet train was just a wet dream.

    norcal (a5428a)

  7. 5. Affordable real estate? 2nd-amendment supporting? I suppose that might be the case if you don’t live anywhere near Las Vegas, but I didn’t think America’s gambling capital exactly embraced having firearms in gaming establishments.

    Gryph (08c844)

  8. On a warm summer’s eve
    On a train bound for nowhere
    I met up with the guv’ner
    He just wouldn’t shut his mouth
    He said, “Son, this train’s important
    For the future of our children
    And if you don’t pay another billion
    The whole project will go south.”

    Chuck Bartowski (6fff93)

  9. Gryph,

    Nevada real estate is affordable compared to that of California. As for the 2nd amendment, concealed carry is legal throughout the state, even in Las Vegas. No, the casinos don’t want firearms inside them, but I have yet to see a casino with metal detectors.

    norcal (a5428a)


  10. Golden Staters should have realized that with all the environmental regulations, NIMBYism, unions, and multi-layered government that is and has been California for a very long time, the bullet train was just a wet dream.

    And it’s not as if the opponents of the bullet train didn’t make that point in the run-up to the vote. But the Democrat establishment blithely told us that they would get all interest groups aboard the train (pardon the pun), as if the environmentalists were just another specialist interest in the party’s coalition instead of an uncontrollable group of anti-capitalist whackos. By the same token, I’m having fun watching the environmentalist lobby fight tooth-and-nail against Gavin Newsom’s attempts to build more housing in the state. The crony capitalist left versus the anti-capitalist left makes for good TV, as we’re seeing with Comrade Sanders in the Dem primary.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  11. @10 Yup. Pass the popcorn.

    norcal (a5428a)

  12. sad that common sense has gone to pot

    mg (8cbc69)

  13. Good one, Chuck! Colonel Haiku would be proud. How ironic that the name of the tune is “The Gambler”.

    norcal (a5428a)

  14. Ha! I was born in the Pyrite State just as Dwight David Eisenhower was getting settled in the White House, but family fortunes had my mother, sisters and I decamping for about as far away as you can the lower 48, Maine, once I finished the 2nd grade.

    Now I’m in the Bluegrass State, where we have no high speed rail, but, my property taxes on eight acres of land, with 500 feet of frontage on the river, were $402 for the entire year, our state income tax rate is just 5%, and my Social Security isn’t taxed at all.

    The Dana in Kentucky (e21b04)

  15. That’s a nice setup, Dana in Kentucky.

    norcal (a5428a)

  16. 9. Just live security agents and a metric s**t-ton of electronic surveillance.

    Gryph (08c844)

  17. The plan from the beginning was silly. On paper it would be cool to be able to go from SF to LA via train, but in reality there’s no good direct path for it. Even Sacto to LA was an issue because there isn’t available land to build new rails on.

    Nic (896fdf)

  18. OT (but trashing the late Judge Reinhardt is always in vogue):

    A former clerk to Stephen R. Reinhardt, a prominent liberal appellate court judge who died in 2018, told a congressional committee on Thursday that he “routinely and frequently” sexually harassed her and other female clerks and raged against the #MeToo movement, contending that women lodging allegations of rape and abuse against men should not be believed.

    Detailing her experience working for Judge Reinhardt in 2017 and 2018, Olivia Warren, the former clerk, testified before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee that Judge Reinhardt openly commented on his female clerks’ physical appearances and on her sexual relationship with her spouse.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/judge-reinhardt-sexual-harassment.html

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  19. In any case, the total price tag of this fiasco is now estimated at $80.3 billion

    and that’s not counting the shut-down and clearance costs. I also expect some of that boondoggle is toxic and needs to be professionally dealt with. Figure another $30 billion, including the studies.

    Meanwhile, the city and county of Los Angeles, which provides a goodly part of the gross state product, has seen tax money drained for this boondoggle yet cannot find two kopeks to rub together to build a desperately needed subway system. Instead they are cutting every corner and building buses on rails (and buses not on rails) which compete with, and complicate the backbone road system. The idea of subways was to take commuters off the roads, as well as transporting them more efficiently. Instead they just take lanes off the roads, create more traffic and intersections, and largely fail to relieve the terrible congestion.

    Even that 80 $billion could have built about 100 miles of subways: Sepulveda from Devonshire to LAX, the Crenshaw line into Hollywood, the long-delayed Wilshire line to the beach, and maybe 50 miles more. Lots more light rail if they ponied up for trestles.

    “Pat” Brown’s legacy was the freeway syste, His sone’s 16-year legacy was destroying it while throwing every transit dime possible into a pit (while decimating towns all up the Central Valley).

    I hope, like the Berlin Wall, pieces of Brown’s Folly are save and displayed every place possible, this time as a lesson in chutzpah.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  20. Grrr.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  21. Anyone keeping an eye on corvid 19 and the homeless population in CA? Newer studies have increased the R0.

    frosty (f27e97)

  22. Detailing her experience working for Judge Reinhardt in 2017 and 2018, Olivia Warren, the former clerk, testified before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee that Judge Reinhardt openly commented on his female clerks’ physical appearances and on her sexual relationship with her spouse.

    I’ve got to wonder how many female job applicants have been turned down in favor of men because of #MeToo.

    nk (1d9030)

  23. Depends on who’s doing the hiring. Not a lot of men in the HR department…

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  24. Trains pollute less then airliners.

    asset (c699c0)

  25. I’ve got to wonder how many female job applicants have been turned down in favor of men because of #MeToo.

    I know a male sales manager in an industry I won’t name but one that is pretty well known for employing attractive young women as sales representatives. He told me that he will no longer hire young women fresh out of college to work in his industry because he is scared that the first time he has any conflict with them they will make a MeToo claim against him. His hires are now either men or women above age 40.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  26. 22. I’m not sure how many, but I’d think it’s a non-zero number.

    Gryph (08c844)

  27. JVW wrote:

    He told me that he will no longer hire young women fresh out of college to work in his industry because he is scared that the first time he has any conflict with them they will make a MeToo claim against him. His hires are now either men or women above age 40.

    Fortunately, I spent my career in an almost all-male industry.

    The (female) office manager where I spent part of it seemed to have a policy of hiring only fat, ugly women. That was kind of a joke, until I realized how brilliant it was. Not only did this keep the men from sniffing around the office, the women working there had fewer opportunities for employment elsewhere, so they stayed longer.

    The Dana in Kentucky (e21b04)

  28. JVW, I wonder if that place becomes a cougar den. Actually, I heard younger men/women over 40 workplaces had been preferred before the me2 era because it was a way to avoid big ticket medical expenses- child birth for women, heart attacks and chronic diseases for men.

    urbanleftbehind (eb251a)

  29. norcal wrote:

    That’s a nice setup, Dana in Kentucky.

    If you look at the ‘traditional’ measures of poverty, income alone, Kentucky is something like the fifth poorest state in the union. But when you use the Census Bureau’s enhanced method, which includes taxes and costs of living and a few others, the Bluegrass State is the 16th wealthiest, while the state with the highest poverty rate is, you guessed it, California.

    I have almost 8 acres, 7.92 to be precise, with 500 feet of frontage on the Kentucky River, and a livable if still a bit of a fixer-upper house, which I purchased in 2014 for a whopping $75,000.

    No, that’s not a typo. Housing prices are very low here, outside of Lexington, Louisville and Frankfort, and even there you can find bargains. Wages are low, but with the costs of living down, we still get along just fine. And the combination of low wages and low prices means lower federal tax brackets as well.

    The Dana in Kentucky (e21b04)

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