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California Bullet Train

California talks a big game on climate change, but even with billions of dollars in federal funding, it couldn’t build high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. -Ezra Klein

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights.

  With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con.

-Virginia Postrel Go To Site

California lawmakers approved billions of dollars Friday in construction financing for the initial segment of the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  The move marked a major political victory for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration.

-Judy Lin Go To Site

A new study by the libertarian Reason Foundation finds that the California High-Speed Rail System will saddle taxpayers with losses between $124 million to $373 million a year. Exaggerated ridership estimates and slower-than-promised trip speeds make the California bullet train project a big financial loser for taxpayers, says the study. Go To Site

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Narrative, Oops, Waste

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced on Thursday that it would end an agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, withholding nearly $1 billion in federal funds, and putting the future of the project in question.

  The decision was made based on the rail authority’s “repeated failure to submit critical required deliverables and its failure to make sufficient progress to complete the project.”

  The government has determined that a fiscal 2010 deal was violated as the state has “failed to make reasonable progress.” It also determined the rail authority is likely unable to accurately forecast a long-term schedule and costs. As such, more than $928.6 million will be de-obligated.

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Waste

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday he’s abandoning a plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a project with an estimated cost that has ballooned to $77 billion.

  “Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Waste

Governor Gavin Newsom dropped a bombshell early in his State of the State address Tuesday, announcing that California would abandon the state’s plan for a high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles...

  In 2008,voters gave the state permission to issue $10 billion dollars in bonds to finance the project, which was supposed to stretch from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Three days after Election Day, the High Speed Rail Authority released its 2008 Business Plan estimating the project would cost $33 billion with a completion date of 2020.

  For ten years, the project has been beset by ballooning costs, dozens of lawsuits, budget overruns, and scathing audit reports. In 2011 the HSR Authority estimated the project would cost $98 billion.

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Waste

The price of the California bullet train project jumped sharply Friday when the state rail authority announced that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $77.3 billion and could rise as high as $98.1 billion — an uptick of at least $13 billion from estimates two years ago.

  The rail authority also said the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029 — four years later than the previous projection. The full system would not begin operating until 2033.

California moved full steam ahead on Wednesday with a $68 billion high speed rail project, a move that comes as the state slashes spending to close a nearly $16 billion budget deficit and as a string of its cities mull bankruptcy.

-Mary Slosson Go To Site

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Debt

Officials are raising the projected cost of the first phase of California’s bullet train by 35 percent, to $10.6 billion. The extra $2.8 billion comes on a 199-mile segment in the Central Valley that is partly under construction. The California High Speed Rail Authority board discussed the increase Tuesday.

  The added cost is due to delays in obtaining rights of way and barriers needed along parts of the track, among other things. It boosts the overall cost of the project to nearly $67 billion, which officials say they hope to recover later. The project has been plagued by cost hikes and lawsuits since it was projected to cost $40 billion in 2008.

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops

The California bullet train project, already mired by major delays and rising costs, is facing $1.7 billion in cost overruns on a 119-mile segment currently under construction through the Central Valley, a 27% jump over the original estimate, according to new documents...

  One of the state’s major contractor teams — led by the Spanish construction giant Dragados — is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in additional payments, rail authority officials said during a recent public meeting. Dragados was selected in December 2014 to build a 65-mile section south of Fresno for $1.23 billion. So far, it does not appear that construction has started.

My main point now, however, is that when people ridicule progressive proposals as silly and unaffordable, they’re basically revealing their own biases and ignorance.

Democrat, Environmentalist, Liberal, Election, Government, Incompetence, Character, Financial, Oops, Crazy, Experts, Demagoguery, Academia

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A confidential Federal Railroad Administration analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

  The California High-Speed Rail Authority had originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk assessment estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

Trains Running Between Bakersfield and Fresno...

  It might be one thing if the experts demonstrated some expertise. If these doofuses could actually make the trains run on time, at least our trains would be on time.

  But our experts today are such that they think it’s a great idea to spend billions on high-speed trains running between Bakersfield and Fresno – the one choo-choo journey on earth where you desperately want to be late.

  Have you noticed that all the experts…stink?

No Realistic Plan For Completion...

Gov. Gavin Newsom called for building the Bakersfield to Merced system earlier this year, saying the full $77-billion project to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco with 220-mph trains had no funding or realistic plan for completion.

The environmental reviews have grown ever more costly, based on an analysis of rail authority’s documents.

The original cost projection, made in a September 2010 grant agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, put the cost at $388 million. By last August, the authority’s official “funding contribution plan” showed that cost had jumped to $1.03 billion. The cost increase amounted to 167%.

Environmentalist, Editorial, Government, Incompetence, Funny, Oops, Regulation

California’s bullet train boondoggle was sucker punched yesterday, as a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked $68 billion in bond funding... The judge ruled the project would need to meet various mandates, compliances and environmental clearances before the funding stream can be allowed to flow.

Private investors have run the other way. The state rail authority has spent more than $5 billion acquiring and destroying hundreds of properties but not yet laid tracks.

High Speed Rail: Incompetence, Poor Decisions...

Inexperienced board members appointed by the governor and Legislature on the basis of political patronage rather than expertise have made a host of poor decisions.

Supporters, who claim that most high speed rail systems operate at a profit, use accounting tricks like leaving out construction costs and indirect subsidies.

If you tabulate the full costs, only two systems in the world operate at a profit, and one breaks even.

There’s been a lot of negative commentary about the high-speed pot of gold for crony capitalists and unions, also known as California’s high-speed rail project.

  The fact that it now is estimated to cost three times as much as we were told just three years ago is pretty condemning. But so’s the fact that now it’s estimated to be ready to ride 14 years later than we were promised just three years ago.

-Mark Landsbaum Go To Site

Democrat, Liberal, Incompetence, Financial

This month, a panel charged with reviewing the California project warned that it lacks a viable business plan and urged a reassessment of cost, ridership estimates, anticipated funding and risks before committing the state to billions of dollars that it does not have. "Our plan is to move forward, but obviously we are keeping a very close watch on the situation in Washington," said Gil Duran, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown. "It's not something we can do alone."

Environmentalist, Hypocrisy, Law

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to fast-track California's $69 billion high-speed rail project by easing legal scrutiny under the state's landmark environmental law, this newspaper learned Friday... Under Brown's proposal, train foes would have to prove in court that the project causes major environmental problems, such as wiping out an endangered species or damaging extremely valuable land.

Proponents of the project, including many veteran transportation experts, have said that California’s massive economy can handle higher costs for the project — even more than $100 billion — by increasing sales taxes or making firm commitments for additional future funding from the state’s general fund.

"It is foolish, and it is almost a crime to sell bonds and encumber the taxpayers of California at a time when this is no longer high-speed rail.

Government, Incompetence, Financial

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The new business plan for California's high-speed rail system shows the nation's most ambitious state rail project could cost nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted funding over a 20-year construction period, far above the amount originally projected. The initial estimate to build the system when voters approved bond funding for it in 2008 was $43 billion in non-adjusted dollars.

Democrat, Editorial, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Character, Oops, Waste, Lie

California's much-vaunted high-speed rail project is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck. Intended to demonstrate the state's commitment to sustainable, cutting-edge transportation systems, and to show that the U.S. can build rail networks as sophisticated as those in Europe and Asia, it is instead a monument to the ways poor planning, mismanagement and political interference can screw up major public works.

-LA Times Editorial

California's much-vaunted high-speed rail project is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck.

  Intended to demonstrate the state's commitment to sustainable, cutting-edge transportation systems, and to show that the U.S. can build rail networks as sophisticated as those in Europe and Asia, it is instead a monument to the ways poor planning, mismanagement and political interference can screw up major public works.

  For anti-government conservatives, it is also a powerful argument for scrapping President Obama's national rail plans, rescinding federal funding and canceling the project before any more money is wasted on it.

-LAT Archives Go To Site

Democrat, Liberal, Biden

President Joe Biden revisited his love of trains during a trip to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, promising to get millions of vehicles off the roads.

  “We will take literally millions of automobiles off the road,” Biden boasted, arguing that more high-speed trains like the ones constructed in China would make trains more attractive...

  “I got more money for passenger rail than the entire Amtrak system cost to begin with,” he said. “We’re going to change the nation in a big way.”

When the Spanish construction company Ferrovial submitted its winning bid for a 22-mile segment, the proposal included a clear and inconvenient warning: “More than likely, the California high speed rail will require large government subsidies for years to come.”

  Ferrovial reviewed 111 similar systems around the world and found only three that cover their operating costs.

-Virginia Postrel Go To Site

Like Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, California Gov. Gavin Newsom inherited a quagmire in the state’s bullet train with no good options.

  Rather than attempt a full-out retreat, the Governor announced Tuesday that he would cut taxpayer losses by completing a segment in the sparsely populated San Joaquin Valley.

  But please don’t call it a train to nowhere.

-WSJ Editorial Board Go To Site

The Trump administration declared California’s high-speed rail project dead yesterday, even while state officials extolled its beautiful plumage.

  Noting that the state had abandoned the full San Francisco to Los Angeles vision which prompted federal funding for the project, the White House pulled back nearly a billion dollars — and said it would come after the remaining $2.5 billion in federal investments as well...

-Ed Morrissey Go To Site

If the line never gets built, the state’s losses will be well under $2 billion.

  That’s not too much to wager on a visionary leap that would cement California’s place as the nation’s most forward-thinking state.

-Los Angeles Times Editorial Favoring High Speed Rail on Oct 2, 2008 Go To Site