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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Good questions about high-speed rail plan

Uploaded: Mar 31, 2016
The Assembly transportation committee showed some very appropriate skepticism about the high-speed rail authority’s latest spin on its business plan.
The hearing followed release of the non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office review of the plan and lots of questions—if not enough—about how it was going to be financed. The current business plan spun a 180-degree turn so the first segment will run north to San Jose from the San Joaquin Valley instead of south. .
The notion of passengers coming from the San Joaquin Valley by rail instead of by car certainly excited some Silicon Valley leaders.
The leaders in the Los Angeles basin were equally concerned because, outside of the authority, most people know there funding is tens of millions of dollars short. There’s no question that the challenges of going across the Tehachapi’s with tunnels and bridges was going to be more expensive that basically at-grade run from near Bakersfield to San Jose.
What still remains a huge question is the finances. Gov. Brown already has forced whacks in the estimated cost from north of $100 billion (two-thirds of the state’s operating budget) to the current pipe dream estimate of $68 million.
What should be heartening to taxpayers is that Jim Frazier, an Oakley Democrat and chair of the transportation committee, posed the question of what’s the guarantee that this will not be the ugly second coming of the Bay Bridge project, which quadrupled in cost to more than $6 billion from its first estimates.
It’s fair to think that the $100 billion is a reasonable number—what’s fiscally terrifying is the notion that it’s a factor of four or five—thus we are talking $400 billion or more. The governor has been dogged in his pursuit of this silly project—it does not even qualify as a nice-to-have asset—it’s trying to buy a Rolex when a Timex will do.
Whether the governor can continue to convince the Legislature to “job” the state’s global warming tax stream to send 25 percent of more to a project that will have no net impact on greenhouse gas reduction for at least 10-15 years will remain to be seen. Gov. Brown has exerted considerable influence, but he can be swayed. He reversed positions this week on raising the minimum wage from $10 to $15 after earlier opposing the increase.
The governor spun it as a justice issue—but economists see it as a job-killer, not an action that will benefit low-wage workers. Ask your favorite restaurant owner what he or she thinks of it.

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Westerner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 31, 2016 at 9:23 am

Let the private sector build and operate the high speed rail. The government should only help with land acquisition.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 31, 2016 at 11:35 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

there is zero possibility that this boondoggle will ever be able to pay for itself based on ridership. How voters (those who actually did) approved the funds, is a total mystery.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 31, 2016 at 9:53 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

If high speed trains made a profit, you'd see the private sector jump all over building them.

But governments and liberals (I repeat myself), on the other hand, love to throw our money at these boondoggles knowing that they will never earn a profit, but they FEEL GOOD.

Par for the course.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 31, 2016 at 9:53 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

If high speed trains made a profit, you'd see the private sector jump all over building them.

But governments and liberals (I repeat myself), on the other hand, love to throw our money at these boondoggles knowing that they will never earn a profit, but they FEEL GOOD.

Par for the course.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 6, 2016 at 9:23 am

It's always fun to see ideologues spew their articles of faith without eny evidence that they have given them the slightest thought.

Government has subsidized every form of transportation in this country for the past 200 years, but no type of transport has had as much taxpayer funded subsidy as cars and trucks. The Interstate Highway system is a massive, taxpayer-funded subsidy of automobile and truck travel. Obtaining petroleum from around the world - and the huge costs of ensuring continued access to it and of dealing with the mess left behind from using it has and will continue to consume far more tax dollars than can be summarized in one short post. Airports, shipping, and freight trains all are based on a system of public subsidies. The transcontinental railroad never would have been built without governmental subsidies so massive they boggle the mind.

But to the knee jerk adherents to the propaganda spewed out by the current recipients of that largess, any competition from a new type of more efficient transportation is to be opposed as "government overreach." You have to laugh.


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 6, 2016 at 1:54 pm

My buds and I look forward to fast rails!

We would take along a picnic basket or two and talk non-stop.

NO free-loaders will be allowed into our circle...sorry!

free-loaders = party crashers


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