Government Spending

About That San Andreas-Traversing Supertrain….

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From the L.A. Times:

There is a major flaw in the business plan for the $42.6-billion state high-speed rail network that would run from San Diego to San Francisco,

Never forget!

according to the legislature's nonpartisan fiscal watchdog.

Among the concerns expressed in a new report by the Legislative Analyst's Office is that the state High-Speed Rail Authority failed to adequately consider what happens if few people ride the new trains, opening a potentially huge funding gap. Eric Thronson, a fiscal and policy analyst for the office, called a risk assessment in the business plan "incomplete and inappropriate for a project of this magnitude."

Thronson warned that there is no backup plan to keep the rail system solvent if it fails to draw 41 million people yearly. A bond measure approved by voters to help pay for the train network prohibits public funds from being spent on operating costs.

It really can't be stressed enough–Proposition 1A, which allocated $10 billion for this project and created the high speed rail authority (please do check out the rail authority's website, especially that quote at the top), was passed not in the loose-money-forever, real estate bubble salad days of 2006 or something, but in NOVEMBER FREAKIN' 2008, when only Ted Williams' frozen head was unaware that California's public finances were in utter shambles. And yet it was endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and the editorial boards of the L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Fresno Bee, among other enlightened members of California's whaddya-mean-we're-for-big-government political class.

For a real due diligence report on the high-speed rail project, read this September 2008 analysis [pdf] from the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website; or just peruse the Foundation's archives.

Link via LA Observed.

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  1. Welch you fool! This could all be solved with more federal money!

    1. Hi Naga! Missed you 😉

    2. Of course the funny thing is, that’s no joke. You know if this thing fails to attract the riders needed to cover operating costs (as they always do) it will be bailed out / taken over by the Feds.

      1. “(as they always do)”

        Light rail ridership in Minneapolis exceeded projections.

        “The Hiawatha Line is a 12.3 mi (19.8 km) light rail corridor in Hennepin County, Minnesota that extends from downtown Minneapolis to the southern suburb of Bloomington, connecting to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America, among other destinations.

        Hiawatha is operated by Metro Transit, which is also the primary operator of buses in the Twin Cities. The line accounts for about 12% of Metro Transit’s total ridership. Less than two years after opening, the line had already exceeded its 2020 weekday ridership goal of 24,800.[2] The line carried 10.2 million riders in 2008, a year marked by unusually high fuel prices, reaching 35,500 daily boardings in the third quarter.[1] Per mile, the line carries more riders than the light rail portions of the Los Angeles Metro.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiawatha_Line

        1. What you quoted doesn’t say anything about covering operating costs. It says it “exceeded expectations.”

          1. and here’s what that Wiki article has to say about costs (big shocker ahead, look out!)

            The line’s cost is expected to total $715 million, with $424 million coming from the federal government. This is considerably higher than initial budgets predicted?the figure was about $400 million in 1997.

            1. And not reported in the Wiki article, but listed on the Metro Transit website (http://www.metrotransit.org/images/HLRT_stats_08.pdf)

              In 2008, rider fares collected totaled almost 9 million dollars. Total expenses? 23.7 million dollars. The difference? Made up with half state and half county money, with a generous sprinkling of “other”.

              1. Sounds about the same as our road system…a little less than half is collected at the gas station and your DMV. The rest is general tax dollars.

                And we aren’t even talking about the pollution-related subsidies that driving gets, or it would be so far into the red it wouldn’t even be funny.

        2. The proposed Cali network would seem to require more than 100,000 commuters per day to remain solvent, including weekends. That seems improbable

          1. I just did a quick, back of the cocktail napkin calculation. Essentially, the entire population of San Francisco would have to ride the line every week to make this 41 million figure.

        3. Long ago I stopped trusting government information.

  2. “Among the concerns expressed in a new report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office is that the state High-Speed Rail Authority failed to adequately consider what happens if few people ride the new trains, opening a potentially huge funding gap.”

    We spent ten billion dollars of your money opening a business without ever considering if anyone wanted the government’s product. Ladies and Gentleman, your 2010 California State Government.

    1. “Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2010 California State Government 2009 California State Electorate.”

      FTFY.

  3. Is it just me or does the station depicted in the website looks a lot like Shin-Osaka, and the trains a lot like repainted Shinkansen?

  4. Why do Statists always love to build supertrains or request one to be built? haven’t they learned of NBC’s disaster of the early 1980s?

    1. It wasn’t a total loss; the music resurfaced on Chain Reaction.

    2. So they can then install a Maximum Leader to make them run on time.

  5. But it worked so well in Ogdenville and North Haverbrook!

    1. Don’t forget Brockway!

    2. I guess this is more of a Shelbyville idea.

      1. We’re twice as smart as the people of Shelbyville!

    3. True or false – You can get mono from riding on the monorail.

      The lack of competent cost-risk measurement is disconcerting. What’s probably scarier is the amount of funding the “rail authority” spent on their risk management plan of fail.

      1. Blame the electorate…the people who DEMANDED that the state spend money it didn’t have.

  6. The expectation is 41 million ridership annually? WTF? The current AIRPLANE ridership isn’t even that high.

    1. By 2030 they are expecting 88-117 million passengers annually. Wow.

      http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/faqs/ridership.htm

    2. Isn’t Airplane a whole different movie?

    3. Maybe they should extend it down to Tijuana.

  7. I think Bernanke, Geithner, Summers, and Obama have proven it: solvency doesn’t matter.

    1. Especially since California’s experiment in issuing IOU’s instead of dollars to employees and welfare recipients worked out so well last year.

      Solvency doesn’t matter, as long as you can print your own money.

  8. “Thronson warned that there is no backup plan to keep the rail system solvent if it fails to draw 41 million people yearly.”

    Just ban intra-state airline travel. And cars.

    1. Except rental cars. You’ll need them once you get to your destination.

    2. What ban? Just strip search every potential airline passenger and occupants of cars entering the freeway.
      Who knows what kind of wmd is being carted around in the trunks of beemers, etc?

  9. Forget it. It’s more of a Shelbyville idea.

  10. Supertrain
    Supertrain

    With beauty and grace
    As swift as can be
    Watch it flying through the air
    It travels through space
    Or under the sea
    And it can journey anywhere

    It travels on land
    Or roams the skies
    Through the heavens’ stormy rage
    It’s Mercury Man
    And everyone cries
    It’s the marvel of the age

    Supertrain
    Supertrain
    Supertrain!

    1. Dear Grey Matter-Mate
      You must know you are sort of quoting from the lyrics of “Supercar”. One of my favorite childhood (puppet?) TV shows.
      Thanks for the rejuvenated memories!
      Bart

  11. 41 million riders a year is approximately 112,000 riders a day. Are these people that stupid or do they just think the taxpayers are?

    1. John,

      The thieves do not care about their victims. They don’t care their comments or numbers insult the tax producers’ intelligence.

      1. I would like to think they are just ordinary hoodlums. But, I am starting to think it is worse than that. If they were just thieves you could just throw them out. Thieves we can deal with. No, I think they really are that stupid. The idea that that there is a large section of the population that is really dumb enough to believe that such a train could attract 41 million riders a year, is much more depressing than the their being thieves in office.

        1. John,

          Most people don’t care they are being misled – they have either given up or downright acquiesce to their tax-consuming masters. It’s sad, but that’s reality. It is up to freedom-loving tax producers to turn things around.

          1. Sadly, I think it’s up to freedom-loving tax producers to leave the state until it comes to its senses.

    2. John|1.12.10 @ 4:14PM|#
      “41 million riders a year is approximately 112,000 riders a day. Are these people that stupid or do they just think the taxpayers are?”
      Well, they got the taxpayers to pass the bond issue, so if they do, they’ve got convincing evidence.
      I couldn’t believe the pie-in-the-shy arguments *for* the bond when it was being marketed.

    3. Of course, libertarians are stupid in assuming that by the time we get this thing built, that gas will still be cheap and that we will still be subsidizing driving every which way to Sunday.

      1. Chad, even you aren’t that stupid.

      2. Re: Chad,

        Of course, libertarians are stupid in assuming that by the time we get this thing built, that gas will still be cheap and that we will still be subsidizing driving every which way to Sunday.

        Never mind the budget overruns and the mismanagement the government is known for – no, the problem according to YOU is that We libertarians think something that is IMPOSSIBLE: a highly volatile commodity having a stable price. Right, we’re the stupid ones, Chad . . . Good eye, there.

        Dumbass.

        1. The government builds the roads, with all its cost-overruns. Why would one be worse than the other.

          Why is it so hard for libertarians to let go of road subsidies. It really is mind-boggling.

  12. And yet it was endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and the editorial boards of the L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Fresno Bee, among other enlightened members of California’s whaddya-mean-we’re-for-big-government political class.

    Oh, man – tell me about it. If I don’t find yet ANOTHER article about the supertrain and how it is “sorely needed” in the San Jose Mercury, it will be a day I should buy lottery without delay.

    Do you know how left-tilt a newspaper is? Read the Letters to the Editor section. The readership will tell you the whole story, and so far, I have yet to read letters with the worst in appeals to pity, arguments by ignorance,. question-begging and economics illiteracy to justify wholesale thievery as I have read in the SJM or the San Francisco Chronicle. OMG.

    1. Apparently, you’ve been missing out on the joy that is the Sacramento Bee editorial page.

      1. Oh, I tried, once . . . They found me a day later, on a pool of my own urine, still in shock.

  13. Anyone else remember the old 70s disaster movie satire about the nuclear powered bus? It was quite funny as I remember.

    1. I saw that! Loved it as a kid. The bus was mammoth and nuclear-powered.

      1. It is still funny today as a great piece of 70s kitsch.

    2. Saw it. Loved it.

    3. Great laugh fest, and thanks for the link.

    4. For those who don’t know.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  14. Having a Super-Train makes me feel all european or japapean – certainly not like a knuckledragging american. Now I wouldn’t actually ride in one of those in Europe or Japan, anymore than I would in America,

    … but their very existence makes me feel more sophisticated.

  15. When you wish upon a star . . . . .

  16. Getting picky, but:

    …check out the rail authority’s website…

    It’s spelled M-U-R-R-I-E-T-A, which is a last name. Some spell it M-U-R-I-E-T-T-A because a certain city in GA has that same consonant pattern. But where did the website devs come up with M-U-R-R-I-E-T-T-A?

  17. The locomotive breath is really blowing in California.

  18. Super Train? What about Supervan?

    1. Before I forget, if you’re still looking for diet grape soda, try ordering some of this (not a personal endorsement, though).

      1. Thanks, man. I’m going to pursue that.

    2. Supervan: Cut, print, gay.

  19. The expectation is 41 million ridership annually? WTF? The current AIRPLANE ridership isn’t even that high.

    It seems they figure that everyone in the Los Angeles basin, San Diego and the Bay Area will take one mini break a year on the thing, and a few business travelers will use it. Or something.

    1. I’d wager my life savings on them going the “Or something” route.

    2. Amtrak’s ridership in November for the heavily traveled Boston-DC corridor was 910,000. Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel period of the year, but let’s be charitable and multiply by 12. That’ s just under 11 million corridor passengers a year in the most heavily populated part of the United States. So where, exactly, will nearly 4 times as many riders come from in California?

      1. Mexican migrant workers headed north to pick grapes?

        1. God, can you imagine how much they would stink up that train. Especially if they brought their families with them. And that would mean their kids would run wild all over the fucking train bothering all the non-Hispanic passengers. They might get mad but they would then be told to shut up and deal with it unless they wanted to be considered a bunch of racist rednecks who hate illegals and want to control our borders.

          1. But just imagine how fast we could deport them when the work is finished!

  20. Light rail ridership in Minneapolis exceeded projections.

    Because they moved the designated “tailgating” lot for Vikings games out of winter walking distance down the rail line.

    It’s still a money pit.

  21. The better question would be… why would anyone want to take a high speed train to freaking Bakersfield? Most of the populated areas in the center area of California are on the coast. Of course, there isn’t a lot of room for trains next to the mountains. So really… why bother?

    1. There really isn’t very much on the coast between LA and San Jose, except for Santa Barbara (and fuck them).

      They’re just re-using the I-5 corridor between LA and Sacramento. It’s the path of least resistance.

      1. Hey, don’t hate on SB. You’re probably just jelous cause it’s snowing where you are , lol

        1. Actually, I’m in Spain at the moment, so you’re actually right, it is snowing, and the locals are freaking out like Californians when it rains.

          That’s all that’s been on the news for weeks now, picture after picture of snow, and clips of people on the street saying “Es muy frio.” ad nauseum.

  22. Poking around the internet suggests that on all the rail lines of all sizes and speeds, Japan gets about 20 billion rider trips per year, and that Japan’s intercity ridership is about 6 billion per year.

    In a high population density, fairly linearly structured country with a cultural norm for taking the train and a whole heck of a lot of lines.

    Let’s see 6 billion/40 million equal about 150.

    Japan three times the population of California, and a lot more than 150 rail lines. A whole lot more. They may have 150 that start or end in Tokyo.

    1. First, CA is pretty linear, just like Japan. Their population density maps don’t look all that dissimilar. CA’s main cooridors definitely have the types of density necessary for public transit (>10k/square mile)

      http://www.californiamaps.us/m…..p-Code.jpg

      Second, Japan has a lot more than 150 train lines….but I wouldn’t say that is a bad guess for the number of “intercity” lines. It is rather vague concept though.

      1. The United States is pretty non-linear, unlike Japan and the part called California is not an island.

  23. Research the lightrail fiasco in Austin. I’ll look for some links when I get a chance, but it’s a good example of government three-stoogery.

  24. “the state High-Speed Rail Authority failed to adequately consider what happens if few people ride the new trains, opening a potentially huge funding gap.”

    UH DERP.

  25. Wait, that 41 million can’t be right can it?? That’s utterly absurd. It’s far greater than Amtrak’s ridership in the much more densely populated northeast corridor (something on the order of 7.5 million I believe). There is simply no conceivable way any train service in California is going to get more riders, much less more than 5-times more riders, than the Boston to Washington DC corridor.

    1. Maybe if the line led OUT of California.

      1. Win!

      2. So, for one year it works.

  26. Thronson warned that there is no backup plan to keep the rail system solvent if it fails to draw 41 million people yearly.

    So, what- every Californian over the age of nine would need to ride the train at least once a week? That sounds reasonable.

  27. So, what- every Californian over the age of nine would need to ride the train at least once a week? That sounds reasonable.

    Er…no need to overstate the case. There are roughly 36 million Californians. So, if everyone who lives near (by Californian standards[*]) a station took one round trip a year they could get close. It’s just that they won’t.

    [*] Which is a log way because Californians drive places…

    1. [*] Which is a log way because Californians drive places…

      ‘Cause cars go where tracks don’t. And leave precisely when the train doesn’t.

  28. I just did a search for the price of airline tickets from SFO to LAX (all inclusive).

    If we assume that the train has an operating and maintenance cost that is 10% of the construction cost (this is very low), the interest rate for the borrowings is 3%, and the total construction cost is amortized over 25 years, it is cheaper to FLY every one of those 41 million people round trip from SFO to LAX than to build and operate these trains.

  29. hmm, I think “if” we were going to do stimulus, this is the kind of shit we should have spent it on. High speed rail for most of the country. or at least the major corridors. At least when all was said and done we would have a high speed rail system.

    1. ….and a whole lot more maintenance fees to cover, year after year!

      1. Still at least you would have something useful, that would generate economic benefits (like roads etc do)

        1. Uh,’benefits’ that cost more than they return aren’t really ‘benefits’.

      2. I don’t know of any train system in the US which is not covering O&M at the fare box. It is their capital costs which they struggle with….and that their competition (roads) in many cases got for free.

        1. “I don’t know of any train system in the US which is not covering O&M at the fare box.”

          Fixed that for you, dumbfuck. YOU EVEN REPLIED TO MY COMMENT WHERE WE DISCUSSED A TRAIN SYSTEM WHICH FAILED TO COVER EVEN HALF OF ITS COSTS THROUGH FARES@!$!@%!@#$

          https://reason.com/blog/2010/01…..nt_1524185

          Your reply was “Sounds like the roads.”

          @#)!%$&@#!%)*#^!*O)

          1. Apparently you don’t know the meaning of operations and maintainence, and how it differs from capital costs.

    2. o-t-a’s got it.
      A nice hole in the ground could use as much labor, and they’re *cheap* to maintain.

  30. “please do check out the rail authority’s website, especially that quote at the top”

    I assume you meant that nonsensical string of words attributed to Ms Galgiani…here’s her bio:

    Cathleen Galgiani (born January 4, 1964, in Stockton, CA) has represented California’s 17th Assembly District since December 2006. She is a Democrat. Prior to her election, she served as the chief of staff to her predecessor, Barbara Matthews. Assemblywoman Galgiani served as the consultant to the Legislative Committee on the Development of UC Merced. She helped secure funding and support for UC Merced to ensure that the university continues to grow as the 10th campus in the UC system. Assemblywoman Galgiani has also worked for Pat Johnston and John Garamendi. Prior to working in the Legislature, Assemblywoman Galgiani spent eight years as a physical therapy aide at San Joaquin General Hospital and Dameron Hospital in San Joaquin County.

    Yep, not a thing in there that would lead me to expect much better from her. Let’s see…”physical therapy aide”, then government, government, government, government.

    What a success story!

  31. When did governmet become concerned about public rail solvency now?

  32. It really can’t be stressed enough?Proposition 1A, which allocated $10 billion for this project and created the high speed rail authority (please do check out the rail authority’s website, especially that quote at the top), was passed not in the loose-money-forever, real estate bubble salad days of 2006 or something, but in NOVEMBER FREAKIN’ 2008, when only Ted Williams’ frozen head was unaware that California’s public finances were in utter shambles.

    Well remember these were the same geniuses that voted to ban gay marriage.

    Yes all you dumbasses crowing about the “will of the people” can STFU and take your lumps now.

  33. I don’t worry about it anymore. There’s not a chance in hell the thing will actually get built. The whole boondoggle is just creating extremely well-funded employment for about 5-10 years for a bunch of board members, staff, civil engineers, and an ad agency.

  34. I am certain that the people in places like Needles, Blythe and Marysville are just going to love the new taxes to pay for this supertrain that they will never use.

    In New Mexico the Rail Runner is hugely popular running up and down the Rio Grande corridor. Yet the nearest station is 75 miles from my house, so there is a 0.000% chance that I will ever use it. But I’m sure paying for Bill’s Boondoggle!

    Speaking of NM, Kyle Jordan and I, Kahn, O’Clast (and others), are you interested in an ABQ Reason-gathering? Email me.

    … Hobbit

    1. The only experience, or even knowledge, I have of Needles comes from playing Wasteland on my Apple //c. Is it just me?

      1. Snoopy’s brother was from Needles. Maybe that is a bit dated these days.

    2. Sooner or later, most people like you will realize it is stupid and wasteful to live out in the middle of BFE.

      And don’t forget, the only reason you are living out there now is the massive subsidies for roads (especially rural ones), rural phone lines, and rural agriculture, for starters.

      1. The nicest thing about living out in the country is that you don’t meet many people like Chad.

        1. I am not that lucky – I live in Santa Cruz 😛

  35. If California’s high speed rail doesn’t get enough customers, what do we do?

    1: Build more train lines connecting to it. Each line feeds the other, increasing ridership and generating more cash.

    2: Quit subsidizing the competition. The gas tax should be doubled tomorrow, and then indexed to inflation…and that is just to cover roads. License fees, registration fees, etc should also be doubled, and indexed. Then we should throw on a full suite of pollution taxes (including carbon and noise).

    I wouldn’t worry too much about ridership.

    1. I kinda figured you wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. I wouldn’t worry too much about ridership.

      So sayeth reason‘s answer to Alfred E. Neumann.

    3. Translation from Chad-speak to English.

      If California’s high speed rail doesn’t get enough customers, what do we do?

      Translation:
      If the damned thing goes bankrupt, what does the GOVERNMENT do?

      1: Build more train lines connecting to it. Each line feeds the other, increasing ridership and generating more cash.

      Translation:
      1. Throw more money at it.

      2: Quit subsidizing the competition. The gas tax should be doubled tomorrow, and then indexed to inflation…and that is just to cover roads. License fees, registration fees, etc should also be doubled, and indexed. Then we should throw on a full suite of pollution taxes (including carbon and noise).

      Translation:
      2. Raise taxes on non users to cover the shortfall.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about ridership.

      Translation:
      I don’t care – I have a personal problem with money.

    4. Easier solution: tax every Californian and visitor to California who doesn’t use the pretty new train. Start with the visitors.

      Obama is going to save healthcare this way and California should take a hint.

    5. 1: Build more train lines connecting to it. Each line feeds the other, increasing ridership and generating more cash.

      We’re losing money on each ticket but we can make it up in volume.

      2: Quit subsidizing the competition.

      California has been redirecting most of the gas tax money, which was supposed to go for road maintenance, for general revenue for a decade. That cookie jar is empty.

      Anyways, I think the problem with ridership will be result of technology. Face to face business meetings will become unusual 20 years from now when people become comfortable with video conferencing. There will be still people who want to attend a wedding, funeral, or go site seeing, but the trains will be lightly used for that purpose. Chad, the ‘green’ thing to do is not build it.

    6. In my experience living in the Bay Area, the BART trains were the loudest mode of transportation by far. I lived a mile from the nearest line, and it was noticeable when the trains started up at 5:30am.

      In San Francisco, the Muni trains are like small earthquakes every time they go by.

      So why would cars be given a noise tax?

      1. Tell SF to get less shitty trains. Japan’s aren’t terribly loud at all. And yes, trains should have noise reflected in their price as well. I mention it more for cars as it implicitly becomes a tax on big noisy engines.

        1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          Fucking troll. At least be consistent.

  36. First, CA is pretty linear, just like Japan. Their population density maps don’t look all that dissimilar.

    To shape: certainly. The west coast is the second place I would expect to find working passenger rail in this country, right after the Boston–Atlanta metroplex.

    To density: no. Japan has slightly less area and just over three times the population.

    And their rail lines sprawl over the landscape in a mad profusion, and every long distance terminus is served by a local rail and bus network.[*] And many of the big highways are tollroads that can cost upwards of $100 to traverse on a day long journey. I’ve done considerable travel in both places.[**] The economics of the train vs. car vs. airplane decision are very different when comparing between Japan and California.[***]

    I ride the trains a lot in Japan, drive almost everywhere in California, and split the difference in Europe.

    [*] There are web sites where you can search compound routes on the combined networks for door-to-door trips. With reliable pricing and timing data for each route include how long you can expect it to take you to walk from the train platform to the bus depot.

    If you have to be without a car in a civilized country, Japan is a good choice.

    [**] I’ll take a third rate, medium fast Japanese train like the Raicho or Hakura over a basic Amtrak any day (never tried the Accela).

    [***] Even at that Japanese businessmen going more than a few hundred kilometers for a meeting don’t take the trains: they fly. I’ve ridden on DC-10s full to the gills with dark blue suits commuting home from Tokyo. The trains are full of people just going to the next city and those who can afford the extra hours: tourists, students, retirees, and the poor.

  37. To density: no. Japan has slightly less area and just over three times the population.

    That’s rather irrelevant, as in both countries, you are including a lot of mountainous areas that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. The only relevant thing is density along the corridors. Japan’s is higher, but only marginally so, and the difference is more that its big cities are more compact. The less-populated stretches of the cooridors are fairly similar.

    I have travelled between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo many times, and I can’t even come up with a reason that I would fly. The shinkansen is 2:43. The plane flight itself would probably be 45 minutes, but you have to add in an extra hour at the airport on one end, add in the time to shop for tickets (which is harder for airplanes because the prices are screwy), and of course add in the time (and cost) to get to and from the airports, both of which are way out of town. Meanwhile, the shinkansen stations are either in the heart of the city or a couple stops on the subway from it. All in, the shinkansen is just as fast, a similar cost, and a hell of a lot more comfortable. The only reason I would ever fly that route is if my destination WAS the airport (to catch a flight out). Even then, I probably would still take the train.

    Finally, it is pretty obvious that fuel prices are only going up, which will make planes less and less attractive vs trains as time goes on. If we are building our infrastructure on the assumption of $2.50/gal gasoline, we are idiots.

  38. Chad,
    Sure, when you compare the easiest and most convenient train route in Japan with flying out of the busiest and slowest airports in Japan the train looks golden.

    Now compare with Los Angeles to San Fransico. The California route is 100 miles longer, there are twice as many Japanese living near the rail heads as Californians, and anyone who rides it south will have to rent a car when they get there as will half the people who ride it north.

    Chad, I’m the kind of wussy libertarian who likes mass transit: I ride trains and get all smug about the work I got done on the journey. But this thing won’t even come close to supporting itself.

    A train like that is part of a transportation ecosystem, and you have to build it from the other end. It took Japan more than thirty years to build theirs out to having fast, frequent trains in all the easy parts of the country; and they are still working on putting really fast trains in the hard parts…

    By all means stop subsidizing the roads with tax dollars, but don’t move that subsidy to some other government boondoggle.

  39. Concerning California voters:

    Well remember these were the same geniuses that voted to ban gay marriage.

    Yes all you dumbasses crowing about the “will of the people” can STFU and take your lumps now.

    In the early 1990 the Santa Barbara area (formally a desert in the first place having a mean rainfall under 15″ a year) was in the throes of a severe drought. Two measure were brought to the ballot purporting to be the solution: first to build an desalination plant (a project that could be completed in less than two years) or second to sign onto the (already overdrawn) State Water project (with a three to five year lead time for the ditch to be dug).

    Both were paired with a bond measure to pay the costs and were roundly criticized as too expensive to be sustained.

    What did the local voters do?

    They decided to pick up both projects.

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