Will the legislature finally stop funding High Speed Rail?

Morris Brown
Founder of DERAIL, a grassroots effort against the California high-speed rail Project

The State budget is being drafted and we will soon know whether the Legislature will continue to fund the High Speed Rail boondoggle. We now know about the huge drop in support of the project to where now only 31% of registered voters want the project to continue.

The latest poll reported in the LA Times article, last week clearly reveals less than one-third of registered voters now support Governor Brown’s legacy project. The project with its huge costs overruns and fleeting completion date has now driven many previous advocates to flip, and they now also want the project halted.

The 2018 business plan just approved by the Authority Board shows, this is no longer a project destined connect San Francisco to Los Angeles with a rail line that would make the trip in 2 hours 40 minutes, for a cost of less than 75% of airline fare. The current forecast train schedule shows the trip will take at least 3 hours 30 minutes. The promise that the train would operate without a subsidy is now to be forgotten.

We now see after 10 years, the project has exploded in cost from an estimated $33 billions forecast in 2008, to a range of $78 billions to $98 billions. The business plan now promises full operation by 2032, over ten years later than the voters were led to believe back in 2008.

What the business plan is now promising is basically to build 2 commuter lines; one in the Central Valley and one in Northern California along the existing Caltrain Corridor. There is no funding to go further south from Bakersfield to LA. There is no funding to connect the 2 separated lines.  There is no possibility that subsidies will not be needed to operate these commuter lines.

It has taken 10 years to finally educate the voters to what will be the result of spending these billions of funds.  Now it seems only politically driven, Democratic leaders of the Legislature and the Governor continue to support this project.

In an interview with Governor Brown last week, he envisioned more Federal funding, when as he sees it, the Democrats take control of congress.  He admits to needing this funding, but he is “daydreaming” it he thinks there will be further Federal help.  After all, the Feds have contributed already $3.5 billion to the project, only to see the costs rise out of control and the Authority, by its own admission, admitting their previous miss-management to date has wasted more than this amount.  The Authority is now facing a Federal audit, which seeks to reveal why this has taken place.

The Governor is predicting another $6 billion will be forthcoming from the Federal coffers.  But completing the whole project needs another $40 to $50 billions.

It is well past time to stop this project.

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