Vote NO on Prop 1A $9.95 billion ($81.4 billion by 2030) high speed train boondoggle

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A few years ago we stopped the Orange County Centerline so I guess it’s time to take on another “boondoggle” rail project.
Prop 1A opens the door for “special interests” starting with a $9.95 billion dollar Bond Measure for Phase I at a time when California is in a deep financial hole. Caution. What is the projected cost for the entire system?

It would be useful if the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) would let us see their “business plan” BEFORE we vote on Nov 4th. Unfortunately, that document will not be ready for our viewing until after the election.
That said, let’s peel the onion and look at a few of the details.

They claim that the price tag, that in 1999 was to cost $30.3 billion, has increased to $45.4 billion for only part of the system. I have read and heard that the price tag will actually hit $81.4 billion by 2030.

Bear in mind we are only addressing capital cost, not operating costs that I will address shortly.
In addition to the Bond, CHSRA is banking on obtaining $15 billion in Federal Grants and another $20 billion from the private sector. Query. Have they been following the global news. We are in a deep recession. Our Federal government is busy printing out billions of dollars for major bailouts. The Federal Transportation Dept. has also indicated that they lack adequate funds to maintain our existing national infrastructure of roads and bridges. That said I question our ability to obtain the additional Grant funds in the billions of dollars range.

Let’s look at another questionable area called “ridership.”
Their numbers are truly pie in the sky without support. Former CHSRA Board Member James Mills is reported to have “described the entire project as ‘based on fallacy’ of widely exaggerated ridership projections.” CHSRA is trying to convince us that Californians will exceed the high density ridership established in Europe and Japan. An independent report challenges the CHSRA projections that could be are more than double the true potential ridership.

Ticket prices. Today’s cost of a high speed rail ticket for the two and a half hour trip from Osaka to Tokyo on the “Japanon/Shinkansen” bullet train is $143. While Amtrak’s ticket price for the Acela high speed line from Boston to Washington, DC is $162, we are told that the future CHSRA ticket in CA will cost $55 whenever the system in operational. If that be true, can you imagine, above and beyond the debt service, the massive annual subsidy for those riders while most Californians will never use the system?

Another issue relates to Green House Gas emissions. CHRSA claims that the high speed rail system will reduce emissions by 50 percent yet I was told that the reduction may only be two percent? We surely need to see more proof from both sides on these claims.

Safety. We read that the steel rail high speed system will reach speeds upwards of 220 MPH. At this time no U.S. train can meet the federal crashworthiness standards criteria at that speed. What they also overlook is that this bullet train will make multiple stops which will surely increase the overall travel time from Sacramento to San Diego.

In closing let me report that the Modesto Bee, Orange County Register, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association all recommend a NO vote on Prop 1A.

About Larry Gilbert