June 6, 2012

California voters have "buyers' remorse" over over a $68.4 billion high-speed "train to nowhere."

"The project is still $54.9 billion short of what is needed, raising fears that the state will be unable to find the funds to finish later sections, and could be left with a futuristic rail line linking minor cities and farming communities."
A new poll shows almost three fifths would oppose the bullet train and halt public borrowing if given another chance to vote.

Almost seven in 10 said that, if the train ever does run between Los Angeles and San Francisco, they would "never or hardly ever" use it.

Not a single person said they would use it more than once a week, and only 33 per cent said they would prefer the bullet train over a one hour plane journey or seven hour drive. The cost of a ticket, estimated at $123 each way, also put many off. Jerry Brown, California's Democrat governor, has championed the project as a way to create jobs and is backed by unions.
Democratic governor... backed by unions... Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, we rejected the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who wanted the high-speed train. We rejected him in November 2010, and we re-rejected him yesterday.

Here's Tom Barrett in October 2010, just before his first loss to Scott Walker, touting high-speed rail — "a defining issue" — where "Wisconsin was the biggest winner" — bigger even than California — in getting an offer of federal money to pay for a leg of a rail system.



And here is one of the most effective political ads I've ever experienced, the ad from Scott Walker, in late summer of 2010, rejecting the high-speed rail:

77 comments:

Seeing Red said...

If WI could vote, would they choose the trains or the mines?

51/49 CA voted down the cig tax, $810 million for cancer research & programs. Didn't CA vote $6 BILLION for embryonic stem cell research which is a bust?

There's your $810 million and a few billion left over.

DADvocate said...

TRAINS!! DAMMIT!! WE NEED TRAINS!! TROLLEYS!! STREETCARS!! AND, TRAINS!! TRAINS WILL SOLVE ALL OUR PROBLEMS!! SCREW AIRPLAINES, SPACESHIPS, CARS AND TRUCKS!! WE NEED TRAINS!!

Chip S. said...

Jerry Brown and unions to voters: "You fucked up. You trusted us."

Balfegor said...

Honestly, if they'd just used the money to upgrade track and scheduling for the existing LA-SF route, it would have been much, much better. And I can't imagine it would have taken nearly as much money either. Right now, the route betwen SF (Oakland really) and LA runs once a day, and takes 12 hours, which is ludicrous. If they put in service that went Oakland => San Jose => San Luis Obispo => Santa Barbara => LA Union Station, that would be much better (cut out about half of the stops). And to avoid the scheduling issues, buy up some of the neighbouring land and put in short sections of parallel track to allow passenger trains to pass freight trains using the same track. The trip shouldn't take more than 5 hours (down from 7 hours driving). I don't know whether that's workable (freight traffic may be too heavy, or the freight trains too long to make passing workable even with short parallel sections), but given that there's already track between the two cities, you'd think someone serious about revitalising rail travel in the US ought to be able to devise a route that takes advantage of that fact, even if it wouldn't be the Potemkin showpiece the politicians want.

KLDAVIS said...

"Jerry Brown, California's Democrat governor, has championed the project as a way to create jobs and is backed by unions."

I hope people are starting to realize that "jobs" are the latest entitlement that the left believes it's the government's role to fund with tax payer money. Governments should not be about creating jobs. They should be getting out of the way to allow the private sector to do so.

edutcher said...

There was a poll last week showing Little Zero at 48% approval in CA.

There may be hope, as DBQ says.

Too bad Meg Whitman sounded more like a RINO than a Tea Partier, or was she about 2 years too early?

Scott said...

Here in New Jersey, Gov. Christie canceled a new rail tunnel to Manhattan because the state couldn't afford it. He even agreed to return $95 million to the federal government for canceling the project.

Is there any non-political reason why Jerry Brown can't cancel the HS rail project?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Ah yes. I remember the early days of Walker's term when the left insisted he couldn't kill the train. You would think they would have learned something from that.

Paddy O said...

"51/49 CA voted down the cig tax, $810 million for cancer research & programs."

Very effective advertising against it, as well as a curious coalition opposed (LA Times included). The big issue was a lack of accountability for how the money was spent and no rule that the money needed to be spent in California (which given the cancer research happening in the state was a silly thing to leave out of the bill).

"Too bad Meg Whitman sounded more like a RINO than a Tea Partier"

Well, yes and no. My sense was she was more fiscally conservative but not as socially conservative. The trouble with the state party is California is not really as liberal or as moderate as people assume. The places that are liberal are really liberal but the places that are conservative tend to be very conservative.

That being said, Gov. Arnold was about 10 years too early. His first year in office he made some really great attempts for change, which got beaten down by vote then, but I think would pass by a wide margin now--and would have helped California financially, just like Walker's reforms helped.

Rusty said...

Freder's gonna come and tell us what a great idea this is.

Hagar said...

USA just do not have the circumstances to make high-speed (really high-speed) rail feasible.
However, we certainly could improve the existing tracks and provide better service with (somewhat) faster trains, and that would be a very good thing.

BarrySanders20 said...

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel July, 29 2010:

Watertown - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday portrayed a planned Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed rail line as an unstoppable train that Republican gubernatorial candidates can't derail.

"High-speed rail is coming to Wisconsin," LaHood said. "There's no stopping it."

Walker stopped an unstoppable, runaway train barreling through Wisconsin. Barrett wanted to go into debt to build a trolley on the east side of Milwaukee.

bagoh20 said...
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Dave said...

Thomas Friedman has written extensively about how much U.S. infrastructure lags behind much of the world. Short-term, hyper-partisan thinking has reduced our ability to embark on projects like high speed rail.

The same sort of criticism was heard back in the 70's and 80's when LA started rebuilding its dismantled rapid transit system with a combination of subway, light rail and dedicated bus-ways. Today the formerly dead Union Station is an incredibly active hub for the system which also includes local and national train service. A new line (the Exposition line) opened about a month ago and building continues. A lot of money has been spent, but the value definitely exceeds the cost.

The high speed rail proposal is a similar long-term project currently at the stage of development when critics enjoy the advantage of being able to point at money being spent without any visible results. I'm undecided about this project. (Some thought an LA-Las Vegas route would make more economic sense.) But I do know that most of the time sarcastic attacks by critics are an effort to falsely discredit rather than inform. And our country which used to lead the world falls further and further behind thanks in no small part to negative, short-minded, selfish partisan critics whose only goal seems to be beating the other side.

bagoh20 said...

High speed rail is like one of those Nigerian emails where if you just sends us a little money we will send you a bunch that you can keep.

People still fall for it.

And this is what I was ranting about on fence siting undecideds. They are not sitting above it all, and using reason and facts to vote. Mostly they vote for stuff when it's popular and against it when it not. They fall for the Nigerian scam 3 times before they finally hear how everyone knows it's a scam. By then there is no money left.

This rail project in California is so obviously a complete fantasy of epic proportions that it test the limits of forgiveness toward liberals and unions. It is a theft like stealing and old woman's medication. You know it will kill her, but what the hell - I just want it.

It's a case of "The Big Lie".

MadisonMan said...

One 'experiences' an ad?

Seeing Red said...

--Thomas Friedman has written extensively about how much U.S. infrastructure lags behind much of the world. Short-term, hyper-partisan thinking has reduced our ability to embark on projects like high speed rail.---


World or Western World where we can go thru 5 countries in a day?

when I was in China 20 years ago, they were working on a highway with pick-axes.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Dave,

The high speed rail proposal is a similar long-term project currently at the stage of development when critics enjoy the advantage of being able to point at money being spent without any visible results.

Well, if you start your LA-to-SF line by building a stretch between two small towns in the Central Valley, you damn well ought to expect ridicule. Borden to Corcoran? srly?

ndspinelli said...

When did progressive become going backwards. Trains are so 18th Century. They work in the cities that have had them for centuries. They won't and don't work anywhwere else. The biggest joke is the MoTown monorail. Not only ill conceived, it always breaks down.

lewsar said...

@balfegor: the existing la-sf train route is privately owned, so it would get extremely sticky adding government owned track to the existing system. also, "buy up some of the neighboring land"? in california? in the land of nimby?

let me state for the record that i really enjoy traveling by train. i have ridden both the shinkansen (japanese bullet train) and the french tgv and thought both were great. but: if there were a market for a regional passenger train system outside of the northeast corridor, i would think that the existing train operators would be all over it. the fact that there is no such activity anywhere in the united states leads me to believe that there isn't much demand.

Chuck66 said...

Actually this right winger supported the Hiawatha extension. It was nothing like California's totally new railroad. The Hiawatha extension was to go on existing (but upgraded) trackage.

Dave said...

Seeing Red - Friedman wrote about Chinese maglev trains.

And speaking about infrastructure, our blind faith in the marketplace has given us a patchwork mobile phone system that is the butt of jokes in countries where there's nearly universal connectivity.

Chuck66 said...

Hagar and Balegor....I think that is the compromise. We can never build enough highways, so lets take existing trackage and upgrade them for slightly faster trains.

BarrySanders20 said...

Spinelli,

I remember "Coleman's Train" mid-swindle when it was being built. Parts of it fell down (I think someone was killed), and they had to cover the windows to shield riders from seeing the blight.

BarrySanders20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarrySanders20 said...

One other funny thing about the Barrett train video in the post -- the trains they show are creeping along at about 15 mph. This is how fast the "high speed" trains would be going through all the little towns along the existing track route.

"High speed" compared to what?

Jay said...

Dave said...

Thomas Friedman has written extensively about how much U.S. infrastructure lags behind much of the world. Short-term, hyper-partisan thinking has reduced our ability to embark on projects like high speed rail.


Actually,
Friedman is an idiot, and environmental regulations and law suits have almost completely stopped our ability to build anything in this country.

Seeing Red said...

What blind faith in the marketplace?

The goal is to drive everyone into the cities.

bagoh20 said...

Virtually nothing about it works as sold. It does not get the ridership, it does not meet the speed, it is not affordable nor convenient to ride, and it bleeds money forever.

Dave, all that transit spending you tout in L.A. is bleeding money, underused, unsafe, and only affordable because the fares are subsidized.

I love to ride trains, but it's an incredibly inefficient and burdensome way to get from place to place on a daily basis. It never picks you up where you are, and it never goes where you need.

Trains were only superior to horses and wagons, or when used for very heavy freight over long distances.

The future is efficient independent vehicles - yes CARS. They will continue to get more efficient, soon be self-driving, and thus faster and safer. Most importantly, they don't require other transportation to feed them. That plus aircraft is all we need for moving people.

Trains will never get much better than they are today, and the problems with them of not going where you need is un-fixable. What good is any transportation if it does not take you where you want, when you want?

Trains is going backwards.

Chip S. said...

There's an excellent way to create jobs through passenger rail travel, but it's not very high-speed.

Original Mike said...

These government funded projects are completely untethered from economic reality. All you need to spend other people's money is a study concluding the finances work. There's a whole industry structured around performing "studies" which reach the conclusion the sponser wants. When it's your money, you actually want the study to provide a good analysis of the economics of a project.

Balfegor said...

The future is efficient independent vehicles - yes CARS. They will continue to get more efficient, soon be self-driving, and thus faster and safer. Most importantly, they don't require other transportation to feed them. That plus aircraft is all we need for moving people.

Trains > cars when you have to deal with congestion into an area that is either walkable or has decent public transit. Heading into DC, I have sometimes opted for a cab on the theory that going directly from point A to point B would be better than taking the metro. I am frequently very, very wrong, on account of traffic.

Airplanes, for many short-haul flights, are terrible because you waste time heading out to the airport, then waste an hour or more dickering around inside the airport with unhelpful TSA and airline personnel. The NYC-DC shuttles run all day, but it's always late, and they cancel full flights all the time. So for those, I find train >>>> airplane. I can show up 10 minutes before the train leaves, pick up my ticket, and walk on the train (if you bribe the baggage handlers they will let you board early).

But let me take the opportunity to repeat my usual complaints:

On the NE Corridor, they really need (1) assigned seating, and (2) for the drooling morons running New York Penn Station to figure out how to assign tracks more than 5 minutes before the train departs. It's a real danger to the public having everyone rush for the little escalator down to the tracks the instant the track is announced. Neither of these require technology -- they just require a modicum of intelligence and organization. Maybe the ticket machines would need to be reprogrammed too, but would that really be so hard?

bagoh20 said...

Maybe you northeast corridor people with your dense cities are different, but I have considered using the metro train here in L.A.. I live right next to an international airport and I would still need to drive 4 miles to and from the station or take a 1 hour bus trip including a half hour of walking to the bus and back. My 15 minute commute by car on the freeway would take 2 hours, and cost me more by train. That's 4 hours versus 30 minutes per day.

Even, more importantly, using a train, my day loses all freedom, and independence. I can't take anything with me, like my hang glider or my dog. I can't change my plans and go somewhere else, or even stop and get groceries.

I often go from work to the mountains to fly or go hiking or take my dogs to a dog park on the way home, or pick up a beauty pageant contestant to party. My whole day would become entirely dictated by the train route and schedule. I don't want to spend any of my few remaining days living like that. Life is short.

As for planes: I can get from my living room to a Las Vegas hotel in under 90 minutes - 300 miles in 90 minutes, often less than 60 bucks. Unbeatable. The LA - Vegas route would be ideal for high speed train: 300 miles and nothing to stop for all the way - just desolate desert.

bagoh20 said...

The actual flight time to Vegas is under an hour, so I'm including 30 minutes to and from the plane which is all it takes. I've done it a hundred times.

bagoh20 said...

So even a high speed train running nonstop through the desert is probably gonna take 2 - 3 times as long as a plane on a perfect 300 mile made-for-rail trip. It's old technology dressed up all shiny.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Meh, trains are my favorite way to travel. I like them so much I don't actually mind their being slow. Cars are for reckless people or those who don't mind not having the brain free for thought or daydreaming (it is dangerous to drive distractedly).

For very long trips, planes are fine. For short trips outside cities or in very rural areas, cars are admittedly useful. For medium trips between towns and cities, because the rail system has been neglected, we are worse off than our country was 100 years ago. True, planes and cars making trains less reasonable for long and short distance travel partly makes passenger trains less useful quite generally than formerly, but then our country having more people makes them more useful.

Cars suck. In fact, come to think of it, I shouldn't be surprised if some of the stupid infatuation society has for cars comes from fellatio being something one can perform secretly on a driver without embarrassing oneself from people in nearby cars noticing, whereas with sex proper, no, it just isn't practicable without a tell-tale part of the non-driver being above the level of bottom of the window.

ndspinelli said...

bagoh, We've had this discussion on a LA-Vegas train. I believe we agreed the progressives would fuck it up by having many stops. It would have to be nonstop, frequent, and serve booze. As you know, most folks don't need a car in Vegas. Wait, I forgot. The prez hates Vegas. Although the Obama women love it. When I was in Vegas in April the strip from Bellagio to MGM was shot down for several hours when the female fam was staying there. I think they stayed @ Aria.

Jay Vogt said...

Trains are just fascinating in that they're pretty easy to underwrite with just a very few variables. You can spot the dumb ideas in an instant if you want to.

Let's take for instance, this proposed High-speed CAL train.

You say that you need a $100 billion in debt capital (at say 3%) and you think you can sell seats for about $125 per ride.

Ok, we've got some math we can do; That $100B will need to be retired (say over 30 years - a nice long amort period) and investors will settle for a nice low agency yield of say 3%. That debt then is going to require about $5 billion a year, or $14 million a day to service.

You say you can get $125 per ride? Great! That means just to pay those bond holders, you're gonna need 113,000 riders per day. Four trips a day (two round trips)? Fine. That's 28,000 riders per train.

You can fit fit 100 riders per car. That's 280 cars. Say each car is 70 feet long. Oh my! This train is about 20,000 feet in length. As a matter of fact, the train is almost 4 miles long. Got a station for that thing?

A four mile long train, full every day - just to service the debt mind you.

Make sense to you?

Curious George said...

"Jay Vogt said...
Trains are just fascinating in that they're pretty easy to underwrite with just a very few variables. You can spot the dumb ideas in an instant if you want to.

Let's take for instance, this proposed High-speed CAL train.

You say that you need a $100 billion in debt capital (at say 3%) and you think you can sell seats for about $125 per ride.

Ok, we've got some math we can do; That $100B will need to be retired (say over 30 years - a nice long amort period) and investors will settle for a nice low agency yield of say 3%. That debt then is going to require about $5 billion a year, or $14 million a day to service.

You say you can get $125 per ride? Great! That means just to pay those bond holders, you're gonna need 113,000 riders per day. Four trips a day (two round trips)? Fine. That's 28,000 riders per train.

You can fit fit 100 riders per car. That's 280 cars. Say each car is 70 feet long. Oh my! This train is about 20,000 feet in length. As a matter of fact, the train is almost 4 miles long. Got a station for that thing?

A four mile long train, full every day - just to service the debt mind you.

Make sense to you?"

In bold above is what a liberal takes away from this explanation!

Eric said...

Honestly, if they'd just used the money to upgrade track and scheduling for the existing LA-SF route, it would have been much, much better.

I agree wholeheartedly. Right now it's more of an amusement park ride for train enthusiasts than a way to get from one place to another. I wanted to visit my folks near the Santa Ana station, and to actually go by train the 413 mile trip takes thirteen hours and costs $97.

bagoh20 said...

"413 mile trip takes thirteen hours"

There's your problem: trains are not good at going fast or stopping fast, and they are abysmal at transitioning between the two. People, on the other hand want to stop and start a lot. We just aren't made for each other.

Eric said...

Four trips a day (two round trips)?

I have to believe they intend to run it more often than that. There wouldn't be any point unless you were going to run a train each way at least every few hours or so. Otherwise it would lose a major selling point - convenience.

Not that I disagree with your major point - the numbers don't pencil out even under the rosiest scenarios. I think for the politicians who're supporting this thing the goal is to get federal tax dollars into the state. From that standpoint it doesn't matter whether or not the project makes sense.

But even as a beneficiary of this river of federal tax dollars I have to question whether taxpayers in other states should be forced to pour money into a project which will never benefit anyone outside California. I felt the same way about the Big Dig - why did I help pay for a road project in Boston?

Eric said...

There's your problem: trains are not good at going fast or stopping fast, and they are abysmal at transitioning between the two. People, on the other hand want to stop and start a lot. We just aren't made for each other.

That's why other countries have express trains. There's no reason you couldn't have a couple trains a day that went from San Francisco to LA without stopping. The problem is if you're only going to have one train per day you pretty much have to stop everywhere.

I'm not expecting perfection. I figure driving and flying will always be faster. But it doesn't have to be this bad.

Dave said...

Now that the "nattering nabobs of negativism" have explained why nothing can be done and even if it could it wouldn't work - the question still remains... why can't the U.S. maintain, update and develop infrastructure and public works equal to other nations from the maglev trains in China to much superior mobile phone coverage and integration in Europe to parking in Milan?

Italy is a bureaucratic mess, but when you approach Milan on the Autostrada there are electronic signs which indicated the number of available parking places at lots adjacent to public transportation. And paralleling the route is the newly-laid high speed train route. At some point the worldwide economy will improve. Why not take advantage of the fact that the federal government can borrow for almost nothing right now and invest in the future?

DavidPSummers said...

"only 33 per cent said they would prefer the bullet train over a one hour plane journey or seven hour drive"

HSR would take up "only" 1/3 of all traffic between Northern California and Southern California? That is huge amount! The Acela on the East Coast is considered quite successful and it pulls in similar numbers.

The irony is that I doubt spending billions to build and expand airports to cover that capacity would get even a fraction of the comment (and then Republican would be OK with it and Democrats would be picketing, both sides have their biases).

Phil 3:14 said...

was supposed to become a symbol of state pride.

Own it, California!

Rusty said...

Is there any high speed rail system anywhere on earth that isn't subsidised by its government?
Seriously. Do these things make a profit at all?

Eric said...

why can't the U.S. maintain, update and develop infrastructure and public works equal to other nations from the maglev trains in China...

You can spend too much on infrastructure. China is a perfect example - they've decided the maglev trains were a mistake and won't be building any more. Then about a year ago they realized they can't afford to maintain the conventional high speed rail they constructed.

Of course, Japan is the uncontested yokozuna in this area.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

When I'm disappointed in my company's performance on something, when we seem to not be able to do something others do, even after trying repeatedly; I often ask my people the question: how come they can do it and we can't? Almost invariably after researching it better, I find out that they really are not doing it either, or their results are not what I thought they were. Often they did it by simply wasting money and it was a mistake. It's then that I wish I had researched it better and avoided wasting all that time and expense tilting at windmills.

The numbers either work or they don't and it doesn't matter who says they do it. If the numbers don't work, then they are lying or our situation is different.

This HSR thing is emotion and ideology driven - not fact supported, at least in California.

Balfegor said...

Re: Dave:

Now that the "nattering nabobs of negativism" have explained why nothing can be done and even if it could it wouldn't work - the question still remains... why can't the U.S. maintain, update and develop infrastructure and public works equal to other nations from the maglev trains in China to much superior mobile phone coverage and integration in Europe to parking in Milan?

I think there's a couple reasons.

(A) We're much more diverse, and don't brutally suppress differences so we encounter a lot more coordination problems.

(B) We give individuals and small minorities a lot more procedural power to block majority decisions, whether through zoning regulations, environmental regulation, powerful local politicos, or what-have-you. To the extent that other countries have moved towards providing these minority protections, they're running into the same problems now. I understand we're seeing this in Japan today, for example.

(C) We blew all our money on pensions for government workers.

(D) We have to do things legally and in the open. In other countries (Japan again), the government has historically been able to force private actors to take steps to implement government policy even when they had no legal authority to do so, because they could threaten to retaliate with unrelated powers they actually did have, like withholding crucial operating or import/export licenses or whatever. As part of good government reforms, Japanese bureaucrats are no longer supposed to do that kind of thing.

bagoh20 said...

HSR is hardly the first technology that after being widely adopted turned out to be obsolete, or of limited use long before being abandoned for better alternatives; for example: zeppelins, canals, low speed rail, telegraph or Segues.

bagoh20 said...

OK, Segues are pretty cool, but still not worth the cost.

Grandma Bee said...

why can't the U.S. maintain, update and develop infrastructure and public works equal to other nations from the maglev trains in China...

Was that written before or after the maglev train crash last summer, that the Chinese cadres tried to bury before the bodies were out in order to obliterate the evidence of sloppy construction?

Jay Vogt said...

Eric said...

Four trips a day (two round trips)?

I have to believe they intend to run it more often than that.


Fair point. And, train length is not the most important metric, just a visual one. However at 14 trips per day you still need a mile long train. Kinda ridiculous . .

. . . for the politicians who're supporting this thing the goal is to get federal tax dollars into the state. . .

Ya think?

Jay Vogt said...

"Dave said...

Now that the "nattering nabobs of negativism" have explained why nothing can be done and even if it could it wouldn't work - the question still remains..."


I take umbrage sir. I am no "nabob"

Michael said...

Dave. European roads are filled with trucks hauling stuff that trains haul here. That is because we have an excellent rail infrastructure that is very efficient for delivering inanimate objects where we want them . If you want to emulate Europe buy a Bialetti and make some espresso.

bagoh20 said...

"why can't the U.S. maintain, update and develop infrastructure and public works equal to other nations from the maglev trains in China..."

Because after paying for all their infrastructure for 60 years we can't afford it. Imagine the poverty Europe, China and Japan would be living in if there was no U.S. for the last 60 years, maintaining relative peace and powering their economy with our consumers, and technology. We're like an old milk cow now.

Since we don't have our own cow, we have to be a little smarter.

bagoh20 said...

Imagine if there was another nation out there vastly superior militarily to all others, so that we had no need to have much military spending ourselves, so we never had to go to war, and that they bought everything our country's industry could produce, and at prices far above what our own people could afford. They also develop most of the new technology being sold and which increases productivity, which we simply steal at will and use ourselves to take away their manufacturing sector's low hanging fruit.

We could build a HSR up the ying yang, whether it made sense or not.

bagoh20 said...

"However at 14 trips per day you still need a mile long train."

Aren't all high speed trains very short? All the ones I ever saw were. It seems pretty scary to have a mile long train doing 150 MPH. That's nuclear level momentum.

Jay Vogt said...

"bagoh20 said...

"However at 14 trips per day you still need a mile long train."

Aren't all high speed trains very short? All the ones I ever saw were. It seems pretty scary to have a mile long train doing 150 MPH. That's nuclear level momentum.'


My point was a facetious one (see my earlier post).

However, the proponents may believe that solar panels on the roof will be able to power this rolling behemoth in such a way that that the energy required will be internally generated and that 5,000 tons or steel moving at transonic speed will pose no danger whatsoever to he fair citizens of SoCal or the bay area.

Dave said...

"bagoh20 said...
Imagine if there was another nation out there vastly superior militarily to all others, so that we had no need to have much military spending ourselves..."

EXCELLENT point - but very liberal thinking to point out the potential problems that can come from a highly developed "military industrial complex." Like that radical Eisenhower!

bagoh20 said...

"but very liberal thinking to point out the potential problems that can come from a highly developed "military industrial complex."

I'm glad it was us, and not others leading, but it is what it is, and the price is often high for the soldier ants.

Blue@9 said...

I love trains, and the kid inside of me would love to see a bullet train between SF and LA, but the numbers just don't make sense.

The problem with the HSR rail backers is that the pragmatics don't matter to them. They love everything European (or Japanese), they see that the Europeans have HSR and they demand we have the same. We could have the geography of Indonesia and they'd still be calling for a HSR.

Amartel said...

It's not $68.4 billion. It's well over that number. That's just a number the governor and his cronies cling to. It's a lie.

bagoh20 said...

The real problem is that it just should never cost that much. The entire nation is paralyzed by the cost of doing infrastructure today. It's the cost of meeting codes and regulations and paying all the people that's designed to bring in that have been piled on to feed the bank accounts and petty peeves of the friends and supporters of every elected official and bureaucrat for the last half century. Always in the name of safety, because "better safe than sorry". Well now we are mostly sorry and not much safer. I brought up the Empire State Building here once to compare it's cost and time of completion which was 1/10 of a similar project today in today's dollars. By that ratio this CA HSR project could be built for under 10 billion. That might be doable.

We may never build anything big again, ever. Was the Empire State building unsafe all these 80 years, is it now? No, and no. We could do great things again, if we could just get out of our own way. We have been pussified, feminized, and mommyfied.

This is our nation now:

Regulation

Original Mike said...

"Italy is a bureaucratic mess, but when you approach Milan on the Autostrada there are electronic signs which indicated the number of available parking places at lots adjacent to public transportation."

You can do great things with borrowed money,... right up to the pont that people won't give you money anymore. That's what's happening in Greece, Italy, Spain, ... and will happen to us to as sure as the Sun rising tomorrow if we don't cut this crap out.

You are Exhibit A of the problem, Dave.

Dave said...

"Michael said...
Dave. European roads are filled with trucks hauling stuff that trains haul here... If you want to emulate Europe buy a Bialetti and make some espresso."

mmm hmmm ... I prefer Nespresso - and we have lots of trucks as well... but we don't have universal health care - we spend a lot more and have for our "Vegas health care" - and the results are worse - because we decided that private enterprise making money is more important than citizens receiving affordable health care. It's our priority - making a few people richer is more important than insuring the health of the nation.

After all, if you're sick - it's your fault.

furious_a said...

If Highspeed rail doesn't work out for California, they could try monorail.

Barney nails it at 1:10.

Steven said...

Dave, sure, we could pointlessly sink unrecoverable billions into high-speed rail systems, building them bigger and faster and more efficient than anything the Europeans have. We could similarly build pyramids bigger than any the Egyptians have. That such a boondoggle would be paid for with low interest rate bonds does not constitute a reason to do one. And at least the pyramids wouldn't have ongoing maintenance and operation costs; they might someday actually return a profit from tourism.

The fact that it's possible and other people are doing it is not actually a reason to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, either. Only a person of still-adolescent mentality goes, "But other countries are doing it!"

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... and we have lots of trucks as well... but we don't have universal health care - we spend a lot more and have for our "Vegas health care" - and the results are worse - because we decided that private enterprise making money is more important than citizens receiving affordable health care. It's our priority - making a few people richer is more important than insuring the health of the nation..."

I like how you've gone from high speed rail to cell phone service and universal health care and how Europe does it so much better. Maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events but the EU is on the brink of collapse in large part to unsustainable debt which was accumulated to pay for all that great stuff.

Dave said...

"Hoosier Daddy said...the EU is on the brink of collapse in large part to unsustainable debt which was accumulated to pay for all that great stuff."

Well - that's not true at all. The structural problem with the EU is that they tried to have a unified currency without a unified economy.

To be clear those countries aren't paying more for health care - they pay significantly less per capita than we do and everyone's covered. And of course they don't have our gigantic military budget.

Dave said...

Steven said...Only a person of still-adolescent mentality goes, "But other countries are doing it!"

Well - other countries have built and maintained infrastructure better than we have. They've also developed more economical models for health care delivery with better results. And better results from education to (my favorite) cell phone coverage -

But we do have much higher childhood poverty, incarceration, execution and gun violence rates.

"USA - USA - USA - The Greatest Nation ever" - (now that's what I call adolescent delusional thinking)

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Dave,

Well - other countries have built and maintained infrastructure better than we have. They've also developed more economical models for health care delivery with better results. And better results from education to (my favorite) cell phone coverage -

But we do have much higher childhood poverty, incarceration, execution and gun violence rates.


You know, if you don't specify your "other countries," and that they are better than the US on all these metrics, including the healthcare costs and results and the infrastructure and the education and the cell phone coverage ("your favorite"), there's really no particular reason to pay much attention.

You appear to be a US citizen, or at least a resident in the US. What are you doing still here, if we suck so patently? There are at least half a dozen countries you could emigrate to.

SH said...

We went on some anti Bush tantrums and voted for stupid projects to show Bush... he is stupid... or something. I fly between SF and LA... it's about 135 roundtrip and you get free trips every now and then... the train is a stupid project... and it will probably be easier to hit with a terror attack. Like a big pipeline; you can't watch all the track all the time....

David said...

It may go nowhere, but it will get there really, really fast — when it runs.

Eric said...

It's our priority - making a few people richer is more important than insuring the health of the nation..."

And... blowing hundreds of billions on these sorts of boondoggles sucks up money that could have been used for other things like, you know, health care. But at least the latte sippers can ride the train from nowhere to BFE while they complain about health care.