California can't afford the bullet train [Most commented]
Dump California's bullet train. At least, that's the overwhelming sentiment among readers who've been responding to the board's most recent editorial, "Keep California's bullet train on track." The board wrote:
The project is unquestionably risky, far more expensive than voters were told it would be when they approved nearly $10 billion in bonds to build it in 2008, and unlikely to be finished until years later than promoters had suggested. Polls show that the public is turning against it, and if new information emerges forecasting more serious troubles, even we might be persuaded to dump it. But we're not there yet, especially because the latest report, from the California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know.
Here's what readers are saying.
The state cannot afford it
This is the biggest boondoggle in CA history and should be permanently shelved. The voters were fed a lot of baloney when the first "guestimates" came out and it turns out, as is typical of these projects, that the ridership was vastly overstated and the costs vastly understated. The state simply cannot afford the luxury of building a high speed rail network no one uses and be stuck with billions a year in debt. This is a virtual image of all the "city financed football stadiums" that plague the countryside with massive debts. The very instant the pols and unions get involved, costs just triple every six months. Brown would be nuts to allow this junk project to see the light of day.
Too much to pay for nostalgia
This utter waste of taxpayer money can never compete with the airlines. There is a fast Amtrak train between DC and NYC, yet the airlines fly full. Who is going to spend 2 hrs and 40 min on a train when an airliner makes the trip in 1 hour and can take you to San Jose, Oakland or San Francisco? It sounds like a wonderful nostalgic thing to ride the train but passenger trains are on the way out.
It's really simple. Let's say these billions and billions are spent for this boondoggle. Right now you can fly Southwest between L.A. and SF or Sacramento for $200 round trip. It takes an hour each way. Will this train, which will take several hours for the same trip be considerably less than flying? $100 round trip? $75? If the answer is no, it shouldn't be built. Also, what if you want to take a family to SF? Even if it's $100 round-trip. That's $400 for four people. So I can pay $400 to take a train that takes 3 or so hours OR, pay 1/4 the price and drive and it only takes a few hours more.
As can be seen, all it takes is someone with a basic understanding of economics to realize what folly this project is. For some reason the millions being spent by the state and consultants to study this for some reason fail to come to the same conclusion. Oh wait, it's not their money, it's the taxpayers. There's your reason folks.
Kill the train
This is another Government boondoggle. The costs we were sold on originally have skyrocketed way over budget. No one will ride it for what the price of a ticket would have to be. Please just kill it now. We have an enormous budget deficit. We need to quit spending, not building trains to nowhere that no one will ride. Kill it now!
Send the bill to the fiscal fools
The Times writers and editorial staff remain consistent. Throw billions of debt at every political issue. There is not one high speed rail that makes a dime on earth. The estimated $93 billion for this fiscal nightmare is just a start. That does not even include employees, pay, benefits, infrastructure, or maintance. There are no estimated annual costs for actual "operation."
Fiscal fools should be sent the bill if they want this. There is no free lunch.
A better way to spend the money
Do we really need yet another public project that is way over cost, will take way longer to complete than planned, and will never make money? I work in infrastructure and believe me, that money would be much better spent rebuilding our crumbling cities.
Scrap the train; build more airports
You promoters of the bullet train are a bunch of delusional knuckleheads. Not one passenger train system IN THE WORLD can exist without being heavily subsidized by government money. In Europe the passenger trains ONLY carry 6% of the population! The train system in America, AmTrak, is subsidized by the federal government and still loses money!
If I want to go from Southern California to San Francisco, I can hop on a plane and be there in less than an hour and for less money than it would cost to go by the proposed bullet train.
Trains are 18th Century technology. If people want to get from point A to point B fast, just build more airports!
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: California High-Speed Rail Authority artist's rendering of a high-speed train speeding along the California coast. Credit: California High Speed Rail Authority / Associated Press