Transportation Policy

Gubernator Cuckoo for Chinese Choo-Choo

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"I thought Denzell was fantastic, but Matthau was really extraordinary in that part."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been trainspotting on his Asian junket, taking the opportunity to convene and exchange ideas with fellow railroad buffs in Shanghai and Tokyo, where the governor announced, "You have to look at which system is most alike to the California challenges that we are facing."

AFP points out that the gubernator is not just looking for new ideas for statehouse train set. He also wants yuan:

The western US state, which is China's fourth largest trading partner, is looking to build a system by 2030 that will carry 90 million passengers a year, with a Los Angeles-San Francisco line at the heart of the network.

"We want China, for instance, to invest in our high-speed rail, to build high-speed rail, to be part of this bidding process we are going to go through," Schwarzenegger said in a speech in Shanghai.

"Many countries will be bidding to build high-speed rail. And we are also looking for financing from China," he said, lauding the "great potential" for increasing trade between China and California.

And yes, that "90 million passengers" figure is fiction. It's nearly three times the total population of California and more than three times the number of passengers Amtrak carries from sea to shining sea.

To learn why California's 14-year-old high-speed rail project has gone and probably always will go nowhere, read on, and on and on.

To find out about the folly of high-speed rail at the national level, all aboard.

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  1. Say what you will about the feasibility and desirability of high-speed rail in California, but passenger numbers generally refer to the number of trips taken by a passenger, not the total number of people who might take one or more trips on the system.

    I.e., 9 million people taking 5 round trips between San Francisco and L.A. in one year equals 90 million passengers annually. Likewise, 1 million commuters going to and from work each day for 250 days out of the year equals 500 million passengers.

  2. Caption Contest!

    “I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.”

    1. I got more of a Total Recall vibe from the picture. Driver looks like Johnnycab.

      1. I was trying to remember the scene from Total Recall as well, because i didn’t recall (hehe) it looking like that.

        A minute or two of thinking, and i finally realized it wasn’t a screen cap from the movie.

        So, yeah, what James said.

  3. “You have to look at which system is most alike to the California challenges that we are facing.”

    English really is his second language, isn’t it.

    1. No, no, no. If you arrange the words correctly, it says “Fuck you.” He’s been known to do that, you know.

    2. Well, California Challenges are sort of… system of sorts. At least they’re systemized and then brought to the other 49 states.

  4. While over there, he’s also promoting the Bay Area as a candidate for the 2020(?) World Expo.

  5. “We want China, for instance, to invest in our high-speed rail, to build high-speed rail, to be part of this bidding process we are going to go through,” Schwarzenegger said in a speech in Shanghai.

    If this means what I think it means, California is doomed. And like so many other Big Ideas, when California goes, so goes the rest of the nation.

    1. You’d think that doing the opposite of what California does would be a viable strategy for most states.

  6. “He also wants yuan” You know puns are lazy writing, right Cavanaugh?

  7. Around where I live, we get a Springfield, MA-Hartford, CT-New Haven, CT high speed rail line shoved down our throats by the left and the pols all the time.

    Wanna revitalize three small and dying cities, where pretty much everyone lives in the suburbs and owns a car? Let’s shut down two lanes of traffic for HOV lanes and let people travel freely between them on the high speed rail! Mind you, nobody actually wants to go to these places unless you’re under 30 and looking to booze, but we should build it – and quickly! It’ll pay for itself!

    Ay yi yi…

    1. Mind you, nobody actually wants to go to these places unless you’re under 30 and looking to booze, but we should build it – and quickly! It’ll pay for itself!

      Hey, if we’re going to blow taxdollars on subsidizing anyone, I want it to go to the Under-30-and-Boozin’ segment.

      1. I suppose they’ll be the ones paying for it eventually. Or at least their kids.

  8. In the not too distant future when world gas supplies cause gas prices to soar, there will be a need for high speed mass rail in the U.S. However, given the corruption of our politics and the input of all the special interest groups, mass rail should be available in the U.S. in 250 years or so.

  9. California needs to strengthen ties with China and Japan now that it has a trade embargo with Arizona. 😉

    1. Just don’t tell them that Japan is worse about immigration than Arizona is.

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