Thursday, November 03, 2011

There's another $100 billion

What happens when you cross big construction contracts with environmental happy talk? You end up with less money for useful local mass transit, less money for education, less money for other services. You also end up with new sprawl into the desert and regional ag land.

California's high-speed rail system would cost nearly $100 billion when the main north-south link is completed, an eye-popping figure for a state with massive annual budget deficits and a lagging economy.

Still, the business plan released Tuesday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority said the project is manageable if it's built in smaller segments over 20 years.

The plan also predicted that estimated ridership figures would make the system profitable and noted that new freeways and airport expansions to deal with the state's expanding population would cost far more.

It's too soon to know whether the $98.5 billion price tag _ more than double the previous $43 billion cost projection _ will be a deal-breaker for lawmakers, who will decide whether to move forward after a public comment period.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a sad Fricken joke. Airlines are the way to go. Much more flexible about scheduling, less infrastructure costs, and far less operations costs than railroad authorities run by the government. Lets face it, anything the government touches gets f’d up and is not financially sustainable.

    Focus on more efficient flight and let the old transportation traditions belong where they should. Old out of date traditions.

    Supertrains? We have had them for 50 years, they fly, and they hold 400 passengers plus. Its call a passenger jet.

  3. The airline industry receives a ton of government help (FAA, TSA, NTSB, airports, fuel...). Very few airlines actually operate at a profit, while the conservative estimates for HSR anticipate an operating profit. CA's high speed rail will be electrified so it won't be vulnerable to the ever-increasing cost of oil. It will also service many cities at once with speeds comparable to planes once you add in all the other factors (getting to the airport hours early, getting from the airport to your destination, security, weather delays, etc). It's not intended to replace plane travel but to complement it. Improving transportation infrastructure improves mobility, which also improves anything that depends on it. Even local transit service will improve with the renewed purpose. It needs initial investment though, and people are just reluctant to support such a big expenditure on something they don't feel a personal connection to, even though their planes and roads are going to need massive investments anyway without it. And once CA's population balloons as expected the existing options will be no better than they are today even with improvements. Not everyone wants or needs to fly, and not a lot of freight goes by air. Instead of just roads and planes and each of their drawbacks, there will be a third option that has been proven effective and far more efficient than either of them. The initial cost may be high but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what we'll spend on roads, fuel and air travel without it.

    Some numbers and other stuff:

  4. EE,
    I have no problem supporting big government expenditures that I am not personally connected to.

    I do take the position our resources are not infinite. $100 billion is not a drop in the bucket, and your links actually demonstrate that (All Caltrans vs. 1 HSR line, $100B is less than the state's current total yearly expenditure on health and human services.). $100 Billion is a lot of money that could instead go to education, state parks, or local roads, no?

    Does cost even matter? How much does California's HSR have to cost before you would say maybe that money should be used for other projects?

    Have you reviewed the cost and operations estimates (the originals and revised)?

  5. Put HSR back on the ballot and lets see what the people want now that they know the rel costs of a train to no where. What a joke this HSR is.

  6. This was a huge swindle of the voters, like EUSD's Prop P 30-year debt for iPads.

    Not only has the cost of building tripled from what we were promised only a couple years ago, the cost of a ticket on the choo-choo has doubled, making it more expensive (and slower) than flying. Who's going to want that ride?

    And the building cost will go way up from here as eminent domain and environmental lawsuits bog it down as they take thousands of people's houses to make way for the boondoggle.

    They may build the choo-choo to nowhere segment out in the Central Valley, but the rest of it will never be built because private investors wouldn't touch this fiasco with a 10-foot pole, and the state and federal governments are broke.

  7. Again. W.C is right on the money.

    W.C. I hope you run for council, Governor, or President some day.

  8. $100,000,000,000 divided by the population of CA including kids, retards and governemtn workers is 37,000.000. That workers out to $2,700 per citizen. Refine that down to actual tax paying citizens and you have closer to $10,000 per tax payer.

    Now triple the cost or maybe 4 times the cost because we know projects like this truly have no budget. Look at the Sprinter or our Library. Now your looking at $30, to $40,000 per tax payer.

    This thing is a joke and should be killed immediately.

    If it was such a viable good idea, a private company would be behind it.

    Let free enterprise decide not failure government employees who can't get a real job.

  9. Speaking of unfunded boondoggles, how's the Hall Park construction going?

    Wasn't Kristen going to make that her #1 priority?

  10. Right after her butt flexes and morning latte.

  11. Completely agree with this one! If there is one project that can bankruput a state, this is it. As an Encintas Chiropractor, I would like to see more locally controlled projects.

  12. more expensive (and slower) than flying. Who's going to want that ride?

    Me, in a heartbeat. Train travel is so much more comfortable & enjoyable than flying. If I could pay 1.5x the price for any trip (up to ~500mi) & it took 1.5x as long, I would do it every single time.

  13. Right. Say it now Rob. When you get to smell farts from other people and breath the diseased are 1.5 times longer lets see how long you take it.

    Do you currently like taking greyhound or flying?

    Just asking?

  14. Anon,

    My experience on trains are way different and they are more comfortable than my single experiences on a greyhound. You can already take the train to Nor Cal. I took the train there when my son was little and completely in love with trains; we only did it one way.


    I know a lot of students who would like to see that drop in the bucket get moved over to educational funding and a lot of people who want to find funding for local transit. Money for HSR means less money for other things. Would $200 billion for HSR be too much, where would you draw the line?

    Some of the other comments made me wonder:

    Would it be better if we nationalized the airlines?

    Why won't high speed rail have security or security delays? Why doesn't HSR not also require getting from the station to your destination or getting from home to the station?

    Any environmental or economic concerns about new sprawl or concerns about lost economic output by our state's main industry that can't be outsourced, namely agriculture?

    The HSR is for medium distance travel along the HSR route. The vast amount of passenger trips are local. HSR doesn't improve mobility for most of those daily trips (unless more people move further from their work, out to exurbs along the HSR line facilitating sprawl?).

  15. To answer W.C.'s question about the Hall property park boondoggle, the latest information out of City Hall is that the staff is having trouble doing the bid preparation. Very likely nothing will come out until January, if not later.

    Didn't Jerome say that construction would start in 2011? Later Jim O'Grady, temp head of Parks & Rec, said bids would be ready in September.

    The elephant in the room is the financing. The City simply doesn't have enough money. The City is looking for donations and contemplating borrowing. EECH!! More Lease Revenue Bonds approved by a simple majority of the council. More money into the Black Hole park.


Thank you for posting on the Leucadia Blog.
There is nothing more powerful on this Earth than an anonymous opinion on the Internet.
Have at it!!!