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The final CA HSR lie is exposed as more fraud

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yeah, it’s true — I DO fiendishly enjoy beating a dead iron horse — in this case, our California HSR choo-choo.  But bear with me.  New stuff!  Three solid articles, as a matter of fact.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine we will continue with this HSR madness, but never underestimate the bull-headed stupidity of Democrat politicians — both state and national. Fortunately there now is a new stake (a silver spike?) that’s been driven through the putrid heart that sustains this beast.

As an educational aside, let me suggest that this single example of government running amok at the behest of special interests — in this case, HSR train lovers, green religionists, labor unions and big rail business profiteers — a project justified by obviously fraudulent “facts” — could and should constitute an entire college political science course on how government REALLY works.  Of course, it won’t make the course list (or even be mentioned as an aside in the classrooms), but collegiate pro-socialist bias (with the prerequisite blinders) is a separate subject for another time.

Below is perhaps the best current short summation of this disaster, written by the most hated passenger rail subsidy critic in America — Randal O’Toole — and posted on the libertarian Cato Institute blog.

One aspect of this article grabbed me. It touches on the last remaining lie that HSR proponents are clinging to — that CA HSR will save us scores of billions of spending on California roads and airports. But it’s now apparent this last bogus assertion is just that — totally bogus.

Excerpt:
Journalists are now questioning every aspect of the project. The latest story [in the LOS ANGELES TIMES!] is that “doubts [are being] cast on cost estimates” for the alternative to high-speed rail, which is better highways and airports. I pointed this out back in 2008 in a Cato report showing that the highway-airport alternative did far more to reduce congestion than the high-speed rail line, suggesting that a highway-airport alternative that accomplished the same congestion reduction as the rail line would have cost much less.

What raises doubts now is the way the cost of the alternative has crept up. When the authority was insisting that the rail line could be built for $43 billion, its highway-airport alternative was estimated to cost $100 billion. When the rail cost jumped to nearly $100 billion, the highway-airport cost mysteriously increased to $171 billion. “There is some dishonesty in the methodology,” says a University of California, Berkeley transportation engineer. “I don’t trust an estimate like this.”

Here’s the link to the full article.  It’s worth reading on the Cato website, as there are tons of embedded links in the piece that I can’t “copy and paste” into this Rostra format.   And remember, there’s more below ammo below this first piece!

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/is-california-high-speed-rail-dead/

Is California High-Speed Rail Dead?

Posted by Randal O’Toole

The CEO and board chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority haveresigned in disgrace over erroneous cost projections. A peer-review commission created by the California legislature says the authority’s high-speed rail plan is “not financially feasible.” Surveys show a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in the state all oppose construction.

Yet the authority’s scheme to build a new rail line capable of moving trains from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes won’t die unless the state legislature kills it. Officially, the authority plans to begin construction by September 2012, despite the fact that it has less than 10 percent of the money it needs to complete the project.

The tide definitely turned against the plan when the authority published a new business plan admitting that estimated inflation-adjusted construction costs had more than doubled from $43 billion to $98.5 billion. Moreover, under the new plan the promised 220-mph trains would not roll until 2033, more than a decade later than voters were promised in 2008.

The authority’s credibility was further reduced when it admitted that the million jobs it promised were really job-years, and that no more than 60,000 jobs would be created at any given time (and even that was probably an exaggeration). These revelations cost the project the editorial support of a number of major papers that had previously endorsed the project.

The 2008 ballot measure that voters narrowly approved authorized the sale of $9 billion in bonds that would eventually have to be repaid by state taxpayers. But those bonds could only be sold if they were matched by funds from federal or other sources. The Obama administration has given the state about $3.5 billion (giving the authority a total of $7 billion) on the condition that construction begin by September 30 and that the first segment constructed be in the Central Valley. The latter condition was made just before the 2010 election in a blatant effort to assist the election campaign of Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) of Fresno (who subsequently won re-election by a mere 3,000 votes).

Journalists are now questioning every aspect of the project. The latest story is that “doubts [are being] cast on cost estimates” for the alternative to high-speed rail, which is better highways and airports. I pointed this out back in 2008 in a Cato report showing that the highway-airport alternative did far more to reduce congestion than the high-speed rail line, suggesting that a highway-airport alternative that accomplished the same congestion reduction as the rail line would have cost much less.

What raises doubts now is the way the cost of the alternative has crept up. When the authority was insisting that the rail line could be built for $43 billion, its highway-airport alternative was estimated to cost $100 billion. When the rail cost jumped to nearly $100 billion, the highway-airport cost mysteriously increased to $171 billion. “There is some dishonesty in the methodology,” says a University of California, Berkeley transportation engineer. “I don’t trust an estimate like this.”

California Republicans have introduced a bill in the state legislature to prevent any bond sales that would fund the initial construction out of Fresno. Some Democratic legislators question the project, but it retains the endorsement of Governor Jerry Brown, and since Democrats have majorities of both houses of the legislature, anything could happen.

If the legislature doesn’t kill the project, the authority will spend the money it has available to build track capable of moving trains at 220 mph from somewhere south of Fresno to somewhere north of Fresno (though probably not all the way from Bakersfield to Merced). A handful of daily Amtrak trains might use those tracks, probably at no more than 110 mph, to save their passengers a few minutes on their trips from Bakersfield to Sacramento. The authority will be betting that someone will come up with the other $92 billion, but at the present time neither the federal government nor the state government has the cash.

All this has made rail advocates increasingly desperate. While supporters hysterically talk about California’s population growing to 50 million people, the truth is that, by the time the state could ever finish a high-speed rail line, the technology will have been completely superseded by such things as driverless cars and improved air service. Although the failure of the California scheme will end Obama’s dream of a national high-speed rail system, California needs high-speed rail like it needs a $100 billion hole in its budget.

–30–

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But wait! There’s more!

Here’s a WALL ST JOURNAL op-ed that gets into more detail on the false claim that CA HSR will save us ridiculous amounts of infrastructure costs.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203513604577144351390445434.html?KEYWORDS=high+speed+rail

WALL ST JOURNAL

OPINION    JANUARY 10, 2012

California’s High-Speed Rail Fibs
Florida and Ohio have walked away from dubious train projects. Are Golden Staters more gullible?

By WENDELL COX And JOSEPH VRANICH

A few days ago, the California High Speed Rail Peer Review Group, an expert body mandated by state law, expressed serious doubts about the proposed Los Angeles-San Francisco rail system. It concluded that it “cannot at this time recommend that the legislature approve the appropriation of bond proceeds” because the project “represents an immense financial risk” to the state.

But hell hath no fury like a state agency scorned. The California High-Speed Rail Authority issued a quarrelsome response claiming that the rail system is, well, a bargain! The agency repeated its claim that without high-speed rail, Californians would pay more because the state would have to build equivalent transportation capacity through road and airport expansions costing about $171 billion, or between $53 billion and $73 billion more than the $98 billion to $118 billion estimated cost of a rail line.

The constant refrain that it’s “more expensive not to build the rail line” is specious. But it deserves further explanation because of the light it sheds on tricks used to justify other ill-conceived projects to an unsuspecting public.

. . .

To read the full meaty article with lots of additional ammo, go to the link:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203513604577144351390445434.html?KEYWORDS=high+speed+rail

—————————

You want more of this? I’ve GOT more of this!!

Actually it’s SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE editorial writer Chris Reed who has more of this — on his terrific new private blog. Chris apparently is the only person who has researched and published that the Obama administration is ignoring the law when it comes to dispensing funds for CA HSR. Reed is quite specific:

EXCERPT: As I [Chris Reed] alone detailed last month, there’s also this: In providing California $3 billion-plus in federal funding for the project, the Obama administration is breaking clearly written rules on how stimulus dollars are supposed to be spent.

These rules, published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2009, say that state applications must stand up after being subjected to a “rigorous analysis.” The key factors of this analysis involved the “financial plan (capital and operating),” the “reasonableness of financial estimates” and the “availability of operating financial support” and “quality of planning process” for proposed projects.

If that “rigorous analysis” really happened, how did California’s project get a dime from D.C., much less $3 billion? Problems on all these fronts are precisely why independent evaluations are so harshly critical.

To read the full Reed article (always a joy), go to this link:

http://www.calwhine.com/now-playing-in-sacramento-jerry-browns-bullet-train-rated-ui-for-utter-insanity/1641/#comment-280

Now playing in Sacramento: “Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train,” rated UI for Utter Insanity

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One Response to “The final CA HSR lie is exposed as more fraud”

  1. Sugel says:

    The Trans-Texas Corridor plan was scrapped last year by the Federal Highway Administration, but the Austinist story still makes a good point: Paralysis on the part of the states to build sophisticated rail networks could eventually lead to highway expansion. Currently, the Obama administration is pushing for a high-speed rail system to connect 80 percent of the U.S. population in 25 years, in part because they’re looking ahead at a 100 million person population increase in the U.S. over the next 40 years. Indeed, if the country doesn’t figure out some adequate way to move people by rail, the grinding traffic on the nation’s highways — and airways — could get far worse.

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