, the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, is a small transit advocacy non-profit. We have long been supporters of high-speed rail (HSR) as the low-pollution way to connect the regions of our large state. The private sector has wanted to invest in passenger rail in California, but has been blocked by politicians promoting California’s HSR project. The design of the HSR project is so politically compromised that there is no possibility of running the system at a profit. We have been in litigation with the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) since 2008, attempting to stop the waste of public funds and HSR’s corrosive impact on public support for transit projects.

TRANSDEF believes the time has come to put this project to sleep. It serves no valid public purpose, other than repeating the painful lesson of the sunk cost fallacy. Now that $5 billion has been spent with nothing to show for it, it is foolish to spend more money to make the initial decision to spend look reasonable.

CHSRA just released its 2019 Project Update Report. This $20 billion plan would provide HSR service between Bakersfield and Merced. That’s $15 billion more than the $5 billion that have already been spent. TRANSDEF does not consider the Project Update Report to be a credible transportation plan. No rail professional in Europe or Asia would ever present a proposal so over the top. Here are TRANSDEF’s observations after a quick read of the Update:

In short, there is no credible rationale for this $20 billion boondoggle. It would be far better to cut California’s losses now, when it is obvious there is no upside. Let’s not throw good money after bad.

As an absolute minimum, the public deserves a “mistakes were made” acknowledgement by someone responsible. In a just society, such people would be held accountable for their actions.

David Schonbrunn is president of TRANSDEF