Skip to comments.California bullet train triples in price, adds 13 years to deployment schedule
Posted on 11/01/2011 1:39:35 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
When first proposed to taxpayers in 2008, the high-speed rail project in California that would eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco had a projected cost of $33.6 billion and a delivery date of twelve years. By May of this year, after the Obama administration tossed in $3.5 billion in stimulus money to get the project started, the cost estimate ballooned to $43 billion, the most expensive public-works project in American history. But that now looks like a bargain in contrast to the latest estimate for the bullet train, as reported by the Mercury News:
Faster than a speeding bullet train, the cost of the state’s massive high-speed rail project has zoomed to nearly $100 billion — triple the estimate given to voters and more than enough to run the entire state government for a year.
What’s more, bullet trains won’t be up and running until at least 2033, much later than the original estimate of 2020, although that depends on the state finding the remaining 90 percent of the funds needed to complete the plan.
The new figures come from a final business plan to be unveiled by the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday, though some of the details were leaked to the media, including this newspaper, on Monday. Officials at the rail authority did not respond to repeated requests for comment Monday.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday was expected to endorse the long-awaited plan, the first major update to the project in two years and the last before the federal deadline to begin construction next year. But state legislators, who were already skeptical, will tear through the plan starting Tuesday before deciding whether to start building, or to kill the project.
California has an annual budget of $86 billion this year, which the new estimate exceeds — and they can’t even find the money to fund that. How will California find the cash to fund their bullet train? No one is really sure, although the Mercury News that it will “largely come from borrowing more” in a state whose credit rating is already beleaguered by their current debt and recurring budget crises.
But the need to move people between the two cities is so great that it justifies the investment — right? Not at all. In an earlier column for The Week, I pointed out that the fixed-rail service duplicates a wide range of options for air flight between the two cities, with little cost to taxpayers and competitive rates for consumers:
Californias high-speed rail project has lots of problems, but its most basic is purpose. The project proposes to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with an express train that will take two hours and 40 minutes from beginning to end. That sounds good in comparison to the drive, which is approximately six-and-a-half hours, when there is no traffic, or by existing Amtrak service, which takes almost 10 hours to go from Union Station to Moscone Center and uses two buses.
In contrast, passengers have plenty of choices for direct transportation between the two major metropolitan areas via commercial airlines. Not only does the airline ticket price on Travelocity come in at only a little more than subsidized Amtrak fares for a round trip ($138 as compared to $112), it takes less than half of the time to travel than the proposed high-speed rail project does 75 minutes as opposed to 160 minutes. Consumers can save an average of $20 on fares by booking a flight from less-used Long Beach Airport (adding only 5 minutes to the length of the flight), and still have a choice between three different airlines for non-stop service.
With these choices and convenience, why bother going ground at all?
Let’s also not forget that the fixed track would necessarily parallel the San Andreas fault line for long stretches, a fault line widely expected to produce an earthquake commonly referred to as “the big one” in the next few decades. The fault-line risk comes into play long before the tracks reach either LA or San Francisco, since the initial spur of the line will connect the thriving and teeming metropolises of … Corcoran and Borden.
The impulse of children to play with train sets is both cute and educational. The impulse of politicians to play with train sets is only educational for the lessons it teaches taxpayers about their deeper impulses for social engineering and wasting taxpayer money. If California pursues this project, don’t expect the price to remain at $98.5 billion or the train to arrive on time in 2033, either.
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There’s a point where Insane Spending is High Treason...
So that`s the loud sucking noise I hear coming from the west...I was wondering......
What a HUGE waste of money.
Can you say, Solyndra?
Is Willie Green still here, or did he get himself banned again?
Surprise! Surprise! (in my best Gomer Pyle voice)
C'mon Man! No one saw this coming?
So by that time you'll have a 2033 system running on 2012 technology. That should be interesting.
There are patron saints for most everything. As far as earthquakes go, there are four saints historically associated with earthquakes.
Saint Agatha (d. 250); feast day 5 February. Associated with earthquakes through her intercession in preventing eruptions of Mount Etna.
Saint Francis Borgia (1510-1572); feast day 10 October. Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Saint Borgia the patron of earthquakes in 1756. Saint Borgia worked in Portugal and in 1756 about 50,000 people were killed in Lisbon by an earthquake.
Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea (213-268); feast day 17 November. Saint Gregory was known as the "wonder-worker" because of the various physical miracles he performed; some said to change the course of a river as an earthquake might.
Saint Emygdius (d. 303); feast day 9 August. This is probably the favored earthquake patron saint in California. Padres are said to have prayed to him when earthquakes struck. After the Great Fort Tejon quake in 1857 Bishop Thaddeus Amat asked Rome for permission to observe the feast of Saint Emygdius in the Monterey Diocese. Pope Pius IX said yes 9 January 1858. In 1863 the range of Saint Emygdius was expanded down to Los Angeles.
I belong to St. Francis Borgia Church in Cedarburg, WI, and we haven't had an earthquake during the 27 years I've lived here. ;')
All the Pols pray to St. Porkulus.
The patron saint of impossible causes.
Did these people, by any chance, ever do a Big Dig up in Boston?
The cost has skyrocketed and its delayed almost 13 YEARS too?
B...B...But that can’t be! My flabbers are completely ghasted!
Yes, my FRiends...we have another contender for entry in the GNS Hall of FAME.
Bury this mile high pile of crap now! This is absurd! How bad do these games have to get before someone yells ENOUGH ALREADY YOU DAMN IDIOTS!!!
“California has an annual budget of $86 billion this year, which the new estimate exceeds and they cant even find the money to fund that.” California is “saved”. The money is coming from their new CO2 cap and tax. The only trouble is keeping businesses from existing California.
And this train would pay for itself when?
Why would one build a train that would never turn a profit?
Because it would alleviate traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.
Oh, so you expect lots of people to use the train.
Well no, because most people would rather drive their own car or fly.
So you are building a train line that few people will use and you think it will reduce traffic and pollution. How can it do either of those things if it gets few people to leave their cars and planes to ride the train?
Well we Hope that we can Change peoples minds with advertising and education.
Bullet train my ass!....It’s a bullet disaster!....Woopee!...
“The first leg of the project is slated for the middle of Central Valley — not between major cities, or congested freeway corridors like San Francisco and San Jose or Orange County and Los Angeles. The Central Valley site is between Borden — a point on the map where no one lives — and Corcoran, a town where half the residents will never board a train because they’re in prison.”
“The state hopes to leverage the public money into billions in private investment. But so far the ridership numbers put out by the state don’t support profitability, thereby requiring a government guarantee. That is something supporters won’t admit, since it would likely sink the project.”
A project only a damn democrat could love!....shoveling taxpayer money down a rat hole!
They will have to tax the commuter air lines out of existence to pay for this expensive boondoggle.
Reminds me of Senator Kennedy and the BIG DIG. Same ole crap over and over.
At the rate they're going, they'll out-do BART.
And that's excluding operating costs.
Willie Green got zotted. Still pimping for bullet trains, etc. at libertypost.org
in prison eh?
I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ‘round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine,
Since, I don’t know when,
I’m stuck in Corcoran Prison,
appologies to Johnny Cash :)
The $100 billion quoted is just for laying down new track. It does not include the construction of new stations, depots or the acquisition of new rolling stock. The estimate does not include maintainance and depreciation expenses. You can triple the price tag and its economically prohibitive. One can argue a bankrupt California would find it impossible to raise the money for it when it can’t even balance its own fiscal books. That kind of money can find better uses. California legislators should put this White Elephant prestige project out of its misery!
Cocoran Prison....right where the idiot politicians belong who dreamed this turd up!
Its not a fair comparison. BART is a mass transit system that serves the highly populated Bay Area. In contrast, the proposed high speed rail system would pass through sparsely populated regions. It won’t have a ridership nowhere near in size to BART. Its a political monstrosity whose sole justification for continued existence is that politicians continue to shovel money down its black hole. BART has been in existence for decades. HSR has no viable customer base, unless you count the politicians lined up in support of it!
Thank you Gov. Scott!
Hmmm? Projected finish date goes out to 20 plus years? Just enough time for construction workers to retire at the magic 20.
Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Amtrak runs buses on it's route because of track damage from earthquakes, mud slides, etc.?
I wanted to ride the train from LA to Oakland in the late 80's and saw that it was half on buses and flew instead for $29 bucks on SWA from Burbank to Oakland.
I remember when Mount Diablo Road was the only way to Walnut Creek, where I lived before there was a Highway 24 freeway. My dad was a municipal finance consultant, responsible for financing the Oakland Airport, the Sacramento Deep Water Port, the Port of Oakland... With that background, don't you think I just might have the inside scoop on BART??? Sheesh.
When BART was built, the Bay Area was NOT densely populated all the way out to the burbs it serves like it is today. The whole point was not serving an urban area but to elevate the price of suburban real estate. In fact, the whole project was fronted by four developers who had bought the land for apartment buildings and shopping centers before the station locations were "officially" proposed.
The same thing is going on in the Central Valley today. What the heck do you think the whole Delta Smelt scam is about if it isn't to rip off the land from the current holders of water rights from the CWP??? I promise you, the "insta cities" along the "high speed rail" route are already on the drawing boards. It's not about connecting LA to the Bay Area; it's about building out the San Joaquin Valley.
This thing will be almost as fast as Democrats shoveling money into their pockets from the US Treasury.
Yes, they will. And, yes, they will.
The environmental movement including cap and trade is their tool to tax and control.
The environmental movement including cap and trade is their tool to tax and control.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Springfield Monorail!”
I can’t believe the people of this state voted for the bond issue. It was so obviously a boondoggle. The media and the politicians did a disservice by not reminding the people about the Los Angeles Metro service. We got 7 miles of subway running from Downtown to Hollywood, it cost $1.1 billion a mile, 10x the projected cost, took years longer than projected, and serves very few people.
I’ve been in the Central Valley. Its like a furnace in the summer. I wouldn’t live there if you gave me a million dollars. Not unless they can find a way to change the weather!