In the pundit and prognostication business you sometimes have to own up when you get a prediction wrong and I find myself in that place in relation to California’s high-speed rail. Less than a month ago, I wrote a column under the headline: Don’t Look for the Next President to Rescue the Bullet Train.
Then Joe Biden announced his environmental platform.
Biden environmental plans included: Spark the second great railroad revolution. Biden wants to improve American rail to be the safest, cleanest and fastest in the world. Specific to the California high-speed rail project, Biden’s report states, “He will make progress toward the completion of the California High Speed Rail project.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom claims he is making progress toward the completion of the rail by finishing the first 100 miles or so from Bakersfield to Merced. Far less than was promised voters when the bullet train bond was on the ballot 20 years ago.
Is that enough to spark the second great railroad revolution?
Including California’s high-speed rail in his environmental plan would bring into question other aspects of the plan considering the troubles the bullet train has suffered since its inception. It has been labeled all the way from a vision of the future to a colossal boondoggle, frankly more the latter from critics across the political spectrum.
Is the California rail project really a model for the nation? Even as recently as this week another criticism against the rail found itself in print with farmers who lost land to the rail complaining they have not been fairly compensated.
Perhaps Biden’s team should reconsider the California addition to their environmental proposal.
Still, I wrote that is seemed unlikely that any new administration would back California’s high-speed rail with its two decades of a miserable track record. Yet, Joe Biden thinks it’s a good idea if he’s elected president.
But then Biden is not president yet.