It’s time to scuttle the CA high-speed rail project


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Some individuals and groups continue to march forward even with full knowledge that their special interest project does not pencil out. The Wall Street Journal just published an article entitled “Amtrak Chugs Deeper Into the Red.” In responding to their financial read ink President Joseph Boardman responded to the following question from Sen. Susan Collins where she asked “I don’t understand how you can be serving more passengers than ever before” while losing more money. His response: “It’s the long-distance trains,” Mr. Boardman replied, adding, “They’re all unprofitable.”

Today’s lead editorial in the OC Register reads “High-speed rail deserves quick death.”  We’ve all seen the report from the LAO. Legislative analyst Mack Taylor recommended that control of this project be taken from the HSRA. The Register quotes the agency “is ineffectual, inappropriate and unaccountable.”

Perhaps the HSRA should acknowledge the experience from Amtrak, the current and established US long distance carrier, who is projecting “an operating loss of $506 million in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up from a loss of $419.9 million last year. Officials have projected a loss of $616 million next year.”

Another reputable source for my writings is the University of CA. Berkeley whose latest report on mass transit states “Capital costs are the biggest deterrent to constructing new rail transit in the U.S. today.” Berkeley researchers Erick Guerra and Robert Cervero also support another of our arguments in stating that “mass transit” needs “mass”–i.e.., density.”
The forecasted ridership numbers touted by the CHSRA are flawed. It’s time to pull the plug.

Having written perhaps two dozen reports listing why this project should be canceled I will not revisit the same arguments other than to commend the WS Journal and the Register for keeping the spotlight on this boondoggle.


About Larry Gilbert