Bullet Trains, Derailed

High speed rail scam


The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) made many promises when it pitched the public a multi-billion-dollar plan to build "bullet trains" from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would allegedly cut what is generally a six-hour automobile ride to two hours and 40 minutes—at a promised ticket price of $50. Voters approved the project in 2008.

The Reason Foundation (which publishes this magazine) took a jaundiced look at CHSRA's promises that year. Now it has updated that study, with California High Speed Rail: An Updated Due Diligence Report.

The study found the promises of bullet trains remain fantasy. The tickets will likely cost $81 and the trip will take more than four hours. CHSRA consistently understates costs and overstates revenues and likely ridership projections, overestimating ridership by 65 to 77 percent and pursuing plans that will require $124 million to $373 million in tax funding.

The state's best option? Give up. "The California high speed rail project cannot be delivered at the cost promised to taxpayers, is based upon a business plan incapable of delivering on its legal requirements, and is justified by proponents based upon unachievable benefits," write study authors Wendell Cox, Joseph Vranich, and Adrian Moore. "The taxpayers and the state would be best served by its immediate cancellation."