Report: Halt state funding for high-speed rail
Original post made on Jan 4, 2012
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 10:34 AM
on Jan 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm
This report raises valid issues and I believe that cutting off funding UNTIL THEY ARE RESOLVED makes very good sense. The HSR Authority seems to have abused its mandate by moving forward without taking the necessary measures to ensure that the project will proceed legally and successfully. However nobody should assume that these problems mean that HSR is in any way a bad idea or that the NIMBY objections of Peninula cities who think only of themselves and fear change have any merit. In fact, this pause in funding should be helpful in making the project stronger since it will remove valid objections to its continuation. There are many, many strange things about how the project has been run, not just the broken budgeting, but the bizarre reinvent-the-wheel approach to creating what is essentially a completely standard technology. Literally, the control equipment, trains, track, electrification and station designs are all available from Siemens and european agencies that have more than 15 years' experience in deploying this technology in Europe and the far East. No need to reinvent anything, and the costs would drop precipitously.
on Jan 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm
I voted for the HSR project. However, since then, the cost has tripled, the time line has been extended dramatically, projected passenger fares have increased, passenger volume projections have decreased, and the number of jobs to be created has been shown to be an huge overstatement. In short, I think we voters have bought a Pig In A Poke. I would like to see a well thought out and economically sound HSR proposal.
on Jan 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm
Although I voted for the autorizing measure, I had not thought this through any better than anyone else. I am a strong advocate of public transit, and I've ridden high speed rail in Europe. I think HSR is a great idea where it is competitive with air travel and has the supporting infrastructure of dense urban areas with solid public transit as feeder systems.
I've come to realize that I voted with my heart and not my head. The distances between major cities here are too great, much more than in Europe, and the local transit infrastructure is by comparison, non-existant.
Let's say you are a movie exec in LA, and you have to visit Pixar in Emeryville. Today, ou fly to SFO and rent a car. With HSR, you take significantly longer getting to SF and you still have to rent a car. OK, let's say you are going to visit Intel, and today you fly to SJC. Oops, still have to rent a car at Mountain View - except MV doesn't have space for a car rental lot.
This stuff has to be part of an existing transit ecosystem, and is unsupportable on its own. HSR wasn't just dropped in place in Europe, it evolved out of existing rail and transit infrastructure, and was time and cost competitive with airplane travel. Here it would be like having an interstate highway system dropped into a local network of dirt roads.