How did the feds end up pushing bullet trains? Maybe you don’t want to know.

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 1 Comment


Read this short but bizarre story of how our federal government decided to spend $20 billion on high speed rail boondoggles — from Chris Reed’s blog.  I’ve seen more thought go into picking Lotto numbers.

Whose idea was it to push bullet trains? Rahm Emanuel’s doctor brother. I feel ill.

by Chris Reed


In December [2008], the [Obama] economic team dutifully prepared a team of drab but high-bang-for-your-buck outlays to [Rahm] Emanuel. The list included … $20 billion to repair existing roads and bridges, $5 billion to repair public housing units and another $5 billion to upgrade sewage treatment facilities. …

Emanuel’s brother, Ezekiel, a doctor who was joining the administration as a health care adviser, happened to be staying with the future chief of staff when the list arrived via fax. “There’s nothing that really gets my heart racing,” the brother later complained.

“What would get your heart racing?” Rahm Emanuel asked glumly.

“I don’t know. How about high-speed rail — getting from New York to D.C. in 90 minutes?”

Within days, some $20 billion in high-speed rail investments had immaculately materialized on the list.


Comments 1

  1. Richard: This post gives me a flashback to your commentary about the Trolley extension during the 2005 Mayor’s race.

    The thing is that investment in high-speed rail, in theory, is a good thing. Providing transportation infrastructure is one of the few things that government is actually supposed to do, and it never pays for itself (roads, air traffic, rails). And there are highly-successful passenger rail models in the U.S. (NJ Transit, SEPTA). Even Amtrak has accidentally stumbled upon a few successful models: Pacific Surfliner, Capitol, and NE Regional.

    The mind-numbingly stupid problem is that when politicians get involved, they ignore the fact that all successful models have one thing in common: they are regionally based. Instead, they focus on where construction will bring them votes, and justify it with the fantasy that someone will actually ride a train from SD to Fresno. The reality that this projects exists because Dem statewide primaries are won and lost in the Central Valley.

    High speed rail can be worth the investment, if the routes are built in places where riders will use them. For CA, this means building it around 2 regional hubs: LA and the Bay.

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