About that high speed rail system, Mr. President...

"What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st Century, a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility. A system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity. A system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs."

So said Barack Obama when talking up the railroad money in his stim bill. Aside from the counterintuitive notion that a 19th century invention can solve our transportation woes in the 21st century, one might legitimately ask that if Amtrak can't make it, why should we believe that any other passenger rail line can stay in the black?

The short answer; we shouldn't believe anything anyone ever says about passenger rail systems. And according to this piece by David Freddoso in the Washington Examiner , that goes double for the "high speed rail" system planned between LA and San Francisco:

The estimated cost the high-speed rail system has suddenly risen by 25 percent, to almost $43 billion. (It will likely rise again.)Because of higher costs, the projected price for a one-way train ticket has suddenly doubled, from $55 to $105. (This, too, will rise again.)

Given that round-trip airfare from LA to SF is only $120 on Travelocity, it is no surprise that the Rail Authority also had to scale back its ridership expectations by nearly one-third, to 40 million annual passengers by 2030. Even this number is insanely, ridiculously high.

Never mind Berkeley Engineering professor Mark Hansen's estimate that only 8 million road and plane trips were taken between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2007. California's entire population, today at 37 million, will be only 46.4 million in 2030, according to U.S. Census projections.

Just one more fun fact: Today, the Rail Authority is holding its monthly meeting, which will include discussion of hiring a new executive director. His or her salary will range between $250,000 and $375,000 per year. Now, don't mock -- the high salary reflects the fact that it's hard to find and retain competent liars.

Early last month, Obama committed the federal taxpayer to this ill-fated project. He promised to throw $2.25 billion of his promised rail stimulus money at this terrible plan.

Every once and a while politicians and lobbyists for the rail, steel, and diesel industries come together and try to push the pie in the sky idea of "high speed rail" on a population that vastly prefers flying or driving to taking the train. And every once and a while, we fall for it because the idea of a real fast train that gets people quickly to their destination while avoiding the nightmare that plane travel has become is almost irresistible.

In the end, we realize our mistake and these projects usually die in the planning stages. But don't put anything past this administration. The "jobs" at stake are not "green jobs" but good old fashioned, 19th century union jobs. When it comes to unions, we've learned to expect just about anything from these guys.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky


"What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st Century, a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility. A system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity. A system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs."

So said Barack Obama when talking up the railroad money in his stim bill. Aside from the counterintuitive notion that a 19th century invention can solve our transportation woes in the 21st century, one might legitimately ask that if Amtrak can't make it, why should we believe that any other passenger rail line can stay in the black?

The short answer; we shouldn't believe anything anyone ever says about passenger rail systems. And according to this piece by David Freddoso in the Washington Examiner , that goes double for the "high speed rail" system planned between LA and San Francisco:

The estimated cost the high-speed rail system has suddenly risen by 25 percent, to almost $43 billion. (It will likely rise again.)

Because of higher costs, the projected price for a one-way train ticket has suddenly doubled, from $55 to $105. (This, too, will rise again.)

Given that round-trip airfare from LA to SF is only $120 on Travelocity, it is no surprise that the Rail Authority also had to scale back its ridership expectations by nearly one-third, to 40 million annual passengers by 2030. Even this number is insanely, ridiculously high.

Never mind Berkeley Engineering professor Mark Hansen's estimate that only 8 million road and plane trips were taken between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 2007. California's entire population, today at 37 million, will be only 46.4 million in 2030, according to U.S. Census projections.

Just one more fun fact: Today, the Rail Authority is holding its monthly meeting, which will include discussion of hiring a new executive director. His or her salary will range between $250,000 and $375,000 per year. Now, don't mock -- the high salary reflects the fact that it's hard to find and retain competent liars.

Early last month, Obama committed the federal taxpayer to this ill-fated project. He promised to throw $2.25 billion of his promised rail stimulus money at this terrible plan.

Every once and a while politicians and lobbyists for the rail, steel, and diesel industries come together and try to push the pie in the sky idea of "high speed rail" on a population that vastly prefers flying or driving to taking the train. And every once and a while, we fall for it because the idea of a real fast train that gets people quickly to their destination while avoiding the nightmare that plane travel has become is almost irresistible.

In the end, we realize our mistake and these projects usually die in the planning stages. But don't put anything past this administration. The "jobs" at stake are not "green jobs" but good old fashioned, 19th century union jobs. When it comes to unions, we've learned to expect just about anything from these guys.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky