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A slow-motion train wreck
News: Editorial opinion of The Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/11-12/2018

“A slow-motion train wreck: Golden State plows forward with rail folly.”

“High-speed rail in California has turned into a slow-motion train wreck. At least it provides a case study in how inaccurate – or untruthful – government experts are when it comes to protecting the cost of new programs.

In 2008, California voters approved a $10 billion bond to start building a bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In the supposedly neutral description of the proposal, a legislative analyst determined the route, along with spurs to San Diego and Sacramento, would cost $45 billion. Proponents promised that speeds of up to 220 mph would allow riders to go from “Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2 ½ hours for about $50 a person.” They also said California could pay the bond back “without raising taxes.”

Surprise! Ten years later, none of that has happened. The cost of the bullet train has grown from $45 billion to $64 billion to $78 billion. The latest estimate pits the final price at $100 billion, with a completion date of 2033.

To save money, the rail authority has resorted to reducing speeds. Instead of building 30 miles of elevated track south of San Francisco, it now wants to put track on land owned by Union-Pacific. For that section of track, train speed would drop to 110 mph. Overall, almost one-third of the route now faces speed restrictions. A train with only one or two stops would now travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 3.5 hours. Most trains would take more than 4 hours.

As ride times have gotten slower, ticket prices have soared. The rail agency has projected prices at $83, $105 and now $186. Southwest currently has midweek September flights from L.A. to San Francisco for $48 a ticket. The flight is just one hour and 25 minutes. The train is on track to demand passengers pay higher prices for a slower trip.

That’s assuming that the full line gets built, which is far from a sure thing. The rail authority has obtained less tha n$30 billion in funding, so it’s decided to complete a line between Fresno and Bakersfield. No, really that’s the plan. It wants to show the train is viable and then dare elected officials to reject their requests for more money – and tax hikes.”

My view: It’s a really bad deal: State government run amuck. One looks forward to the commute airline being replaced by a faster. Cheaper trip between L.A ad S.F. It gets what it has now – faster, cheaper flights. Who want to trade for Fresno to Bakersfield when one wants the Los Angeles area to the S.F. Bay area?

My prediction is that whoever is elected California Governor in Nov. ’18 will quickly say “The train and the bonds to go with it was not my idea, and I am vetoing it. I’m deboarding from the train that doesn’t exist.”

That’s my opinion; what is yours? Tell me.