Friday, August 05, 2011

Rail expert on high-speed rail project: It's a "boondoggle"

Joseph Vranich is co-author, with Wendell Cox, of "The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report." That report was published in September, 2008. The testimony above was given in October, 2008, before voters validated this awful project in November of that year.

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At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes him an expert on rail? Has he worked in that industry?

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You haven't watched this short video, wherein he's introduced as the former CEO of the High-Speed Rail Association. He's also worked at Amtrak and on the Texas high-speed rail project. He's a supporter of high-speed rail, but he was so shocked at the shoddy work of the CHSRA, he felt compelled to speak out against the project.

At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cost estimates are already beginning to soar ( which really isn't much of a surprise, but the 'rail to nowhere' stretch was supposed to be the easy stretch.

Taxpayers were sold the project on impossible construction costs, unrealistic ridership estimates, and the promise of federal funds and private investment dollars that are never going to materialize.

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Hynock T Skrattoe said...

Wendel Cox is a boondoggle. The guy's entire life is devoted to destroying rail wherever he sees it and no amount of reason will get him to understand that most of the benefits of rail are simply not quantifiable in straight money terms. Plus a lot of people just like it!

As for California, yep, it's true that it's falling apart because whiny NIMBYs, labor unions, and bullshit politicians are picking it to pieces. Gridlock and sprawl forever!

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Wrong! Cox and Vranich's study makes a fact-based case against CHSR. Rail is simply a much more expensive way to spend limited transportation dollars. Every public transportation system in the state is in the red, so we should build a $50-100 billion luxury train system for the rich? Ridiculous! The interest on the $9.5 billion bonds alone would be more than $600 million a year!

SF has its own dumb bad investment projects: the Central Subway and the Taj Mahal-terminal. Big Thinkers throwing around huge amounts of money on goofball projects that may have seemed to be doable before the Great Recession but are now revealed as a shocking waste of money.

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Hynock T Skrattoe said...

RIGHT! Cox just hates rail, period. I have been following that guy for years, and nothing convinces him unless there is a straight bottom value number behind it. I understand his logic, but he totally fails to quantify:

1) Future price/availability of gasoline
2) Cost to economic productivity from people sitting in traffic
3) Extra economic productivity from people working on the train
4) The unquantifiable fact that many people just like relaxing on their commute without dealing with stress and traffic and security
5) The absolutely massive benefit this train will be for central valley cities like Fresno which are economic basket cases at the moment.

and a lot more.... I'm in a hurry so can't keep listing, but that barely starts the iceberg.

Cox is totally correct to criticize this particular system for cost over-runs and all the classic California bullshit that makes everything cost 3x what it should, but to criticize rail in general is profoundly wrong.

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous Hazel Multo said...

Hynock is correct. Cox is a notorious train hater.

Vranich is also correct - note, however that he loves trains and fully supports them. His issues are about the sloppy work of the train coalition, NOT trains in general. I would like to see his recommendations for how to salvage the plan - it's disappointing that he doesn't get into a fix other than to kill the goats that screwed this up.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's just dumb to support trains in general. We always have specific projects to deal with, not trains in the abstract. Vranich's analysis shows that there's no way to "salvage" the California HSR project. It was based on lies to begin with---inflated ridership projections and minimized construction costs.

It's simply a stupid way to spend taxpayers' money.


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