California’s White Elephant, The Saga Continues

I’ve written several times about California’s massive high-speed rail boondoggle. This project, which supposedly will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in three hours (or about twice the time it takes to fly), has been praised to the skies by liberals and condemned by anyone with two brain cells to rub together. It is massively overbudget, massively behind schedule, has not secured all of its funding and doesn’t even have most of the land it needs to build.

Oh, it gets worse:

The total construction cost estimate has now more than doubled to $68 billion from the original $33 billion, despite trims in the routes planned. The first, easiest-to-build, segment of the system — the “train to nowhere” through a relatively empty stretch of the Central Valley — is running at least four years behind schedule and still hasn’t acquired all the needed land. Predicted ticket prices to travel from LA to the Bay have shot from $50 to more than $80. State funding is running short. Last month’s cap-and-trade auction for greenhouse gases, expected to provide $150 million for the train, yielded a mere $2.5 million. And no investors are lining up to fill the $43 billion construction-budget gap.

Now, courtesy of Los Angeles Times reporter Ralph Vartabedian, comes yet another damning revelation: When the Spanish construction company Ferrovial submitted its winning bid for a 22-mile segment, the proposal included a clear and inconvenient warning: “More than likely, the California high speed rail will require large government subsidies for years to come.” Ferrovial reviewed 111 similar systems around the world and found only three that cover their operating costs.

The truly damning revelation, however, isn’t just that Ferrovial’s research flatly contradicts the California authority. It’s that the company’s warning on subsidies disappeared from the version of the bid posted on the state’s website. The Times obtained a copy of the full document on a data disk under a public records act request.

In short, the government of California has gone from relying on insanely optimistic estimates of the light rail program (they project 117 million riders a year, approximately 40 times the ridership of Acela) to editing studies to make sure the claim that it’s going to work. And at least few outlets are now admitting that the program is in serious trouble but are saying it’s worth it because reasons.

And you know what? They have a point. Because as far as the Democrats are concerned, none of this is a problem. The California high speed rail program is fulfilling all of its objectives:

  • It’s spending lots of money on “infrastructure” and “jobs”.
  • It provides a convenient piece of virtue signaling so that supporters can prove how much they care about the environment.
  • It’s spendings lots of money.
  • If it ever actually gets built, they’ll be able to point to it and say, “we built his thing!”
  • It’s spending lots of money.

A bottomless money pit that shows how morally superior Democrats are too Republicans? We’ll take two please. Or maybe one for the price of ten.

Comments are closed.

  1. Technomad

    A big part of the problem is that too many left-wing politicians have spent a lot of time in Europe, or talked with people who have, and can’t understand why we can’t have more “European” type things like large-scale passenger rail or single-payer health care.  The fact that the US is not Europe does not register on their screens.

    Thumb up 0