High Speed Rail Snags and Caltrain Cutting Services [Consumer]

by on July 20, 2010

in consumer

High Speed Rail TrainAs the CA High Speed Rail Project keeps running into snag after snag, it continues to amaze me how this soap opera is proceeding. From the moment the proposition that was not thoroughly read by voters passed, this seemed to be one of the fastest moving responses to an approved proposition I’ve ever taken note of.

This proposed $42 billion project is over 2x the debt of the state of CA yet they’re totally focused on planting a train between Northern and Southern California before they ponder the idea of paying off the debt. I think it would be nice to pay off that debt first, then our schools can quit losing teachers, police and fire departments can quit getting merged, sliced and diced and then we can get back on track with keeping our future properly educated, properly guided and what not.

Instead, it seems like the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) is trying to double time it to qualify for a massive federal subsidy of just over $2 billion. I’m not sure how a $2 billion influx of funds will help a $42 billion project, but I’m not in the know on how to make that look good on paper.

Then the reports from the HSRA put out about projected ridership are getting called out as seriously flawed projections. Right now, a train ride would take just under 2 hours. An airline flight takes a lot less time. I don’t see the draw yet, unless you have a serious aversion to flying.

Then there’s NorCal’s Caltrain. The corridor that the HSRA is looking to use. Lawsuits from Palo Alto, Menlo Park and other cities want to see actual cost comparisons of tunneling vs above ground. They’ve only been told it’s more expensive and it seems they haven’t been shown the actual estimates.

Every turn of the road, there’s something that seems wrong with this rushed rail project and it just feels wrong to me. And trust me, it takes a lot to make me squint my eyes and look long at what you’re doing. Not too many times in my life have I had conflict with things or people, but this is number 2 for the year!

I hope things can calm down. High Speed Rail does seem to work in other countries, but I think the process just has to slow down and actually work with the people rather than having it forced on the people, which is how it feels to me. In the meantime, an oddball observation of mine is that Caltrain has been running in the red for years but now that cities along the rail corridor are making defensive noise about the HSR project, suddenly we’re going to suffer from cut services from Caltrain.

I know they’re not related, technically, but the timing is just wacky bad luck, is it not?

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