Saturday, June 14, 2014

High-speed rail: Doubling down on dumb

Governor Brown still working on Daddy issues

Governor Brown and a compliant legislature are doubling down on the dumb high-speed rail project by using cap-and-trade money to keep the project on tenuous life-support. The Legislative Analyst on that idea:

We also find that some proposed activities would not contribute significant [greenhouse gas]GHG reductions before 2020, which is the statutory target for reaching 1990 emissions levels. For example, plans for the high-speed rail system indicate that the first phase of the project will not be operational until 2022. Moreover, the construction of the project would actually generate GHG emissions of 30,000 metric tons over the next several years. The [High-Speed Rail Authority]HSRA plans to offset these emissions with an urban forestry program that proposes to plant thousands of trees in the Central Valley. We also note that HSRA’s GHG emission estimates for construction do not include emissions associated with the production of construction materials, which suggests that the amount of emissions requiring mitigation could be much higher than currently planned. Therefore, it is possible that the construction of the [Initial Operating Segment]IOS may result in a net increase in GHG emissions, even when accounting for proposed offsets.

As critics have noted, "The fact that GHG emission reductions from high speed rail will be exceedingly costly and contrary to the spirit of AB32 is an indicator that AB32 could be deteriorating into just another Sacramento pork-barrel program." (emphasis added)

Jerry Brown is apparently still working out his Daddy issues:

Jerry Brown disclosed he has always had the fantasy about having a high-speed train in California ever since his father took him on train ride when he was a little boy. Brown actually referred to the train as his choo-choo train several times during the visit.

But Brown's father had a record of real accomplishment that Jerry's push for the train to nowhere as his legacy project can't possibly match. The project is still unlikely to be built, since even $250 million is not a significant amount of money for a project that, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office, is still $21 billion short just to build the Initial Operating Segment. History will instead pronounce Jerry Brown a dummy for pushing this ruinously expensive project.

The only question is, How much more money will be wasted on this stupid project before it's scrapped?

A new legal challenge was filed on the adequacy of the state's environmental review of the project (see the filing here).

See Why Cap & Trade Funds Cannot Be Used To Finance High-Speed Rail In California for a thorough analysis of the cap and trade issue.

See also Transdef for litigation links.



At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your arguments about HSR are almost as bad as your anti-bike bile.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Can you be more specific?

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HSR backers need to understand CA-HSR is no longer "HIGH SPEED". The new "blended" track system requires "high speed" trains to slow down in urban areas and share rails with existing traffic, thus causing daytime travel estimates between SF and LA to go up 5 hours or more. If this system is built it will not be like high speed train travel in Asia or Europe where trains zip along on dedicated high speed rail lines.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think it costs too much money but you don't even know how much $$ is spent on driving for the same route. In your arguments--on bikes, HSR, etc-- you fail to understand even the most basic elements of the topic you're vocal about

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

our projecting your ignorance onto me, Anon. I've been posting about the high-speed rail project since 2009. Comparing the cost of driving with the HSR promises has been done here. See analyses of other aspects of the project here.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

See this site for up-to-date information and analysis.

Here's how the CHSR Authority was planning to pay for the project, from their 2009 business plan:

Federal Grants $17-19 billion
State Grants(Prop. 1A bonds) $9.95 billion
Local Grants $4-5 billion
Private Funding $10-12 billion

There of course still hasn't been any private money invested in the project. And no one can really think the Feds are going to give any more than the $3 billion they've already provided. "Local grants" reflects the fantasy that local governments in the state have that kind of money to invest in the project.

When I saw these numbers---and the Authority's numbers still haven't changed much---I understood that this project is nothing but a pipe dream.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"our projecting your ignorance onto me, Anon. I've been posting about the high-speed rail project since 2009. Comparing the cost of driving with the HSR promises has been done here."

that you respond with that link is very telling that you have no idea what you are talking about. you obviously do not understand large scale economics. do you know how many $$ billions is spent getting from norcal to socal every year?

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Let's have your critique of that analysis I linked. It has nothing to do with "large scale economics," phony. It's about the High-Speed Rail Authority's attempt at fudging on its projected ticket prices to foster the illusion that their project can compete with both driving that distance or going by air.

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HSR's own predictions show that even in 2030 air travel fares will be cheaper and HSR now admits a forecast trip from SF to LA will take at least 5 hours during daylight hours, so it could be quicker to drive, and considerably less expensive.

A family of 4 from the Bay Area going to Disneyland could save enough by driving instead of paying HSR fares to pay for hotel, meals and admission to the park.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Today a group of 4 people could rent a Suburban or an Escalade from Avis at SFO and drop it off at LAX 12 hours later for $310. At 15mpg the $4.25/gal fuel cost for the 378-mile trip would be $107. So the per-passenger cost would be $106 to get between the two cities in the safest, most-luxurious, most-expensive passenger motor vehicle option.

A high-speed train might complete the trip 20% faster and be perceived as safer than driving so it could compete at a ticket price of, say, $135 per passenger.

By 2009 the HSR Authority was projecting a ticket price of $109.

Does anyone serously believe that a train could carry a passenger from SF to LA in 5 hours for $135 without wealth-sucking taxpayer subsidies?

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

. Comparing the cost of driving with the HSR promises has been done here.

This comparison does not include the income, sales, and property taxes spent to maintain the road network, pay the CHP, Ambulances, the increase in costs of health car due to the crashes on the roadways from SF->LA, the impact on agriculture from the pollution caused by auto emissions, the toxic waste cleanup needed to deal with gasoline leaks from gas stations, and on and on and on....

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what anonymous said. rob and gregski dont understand the actual problem at hand.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Obviously neither of you has read the links I provided.

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no we did, its just that you dont get it. its not about the ticket cost on plane versus driving, its about the total $ spent getting from socal to norcal each year via private autos versus trains for the entire economy. in fact its a net gain to have rail and people take that over them each driving once u factor in ALL of the costs.

youll probably not udnerstand this bc you dont understand economics but thats why you arent winning any minds over

At 9:11 AM, Anonymous Gregski said...

Silly me. I totally forgot that when consumers decide whether to drive, fly or train to LA they will totally disregard travel time, convenience, safety, ticket prices and fuel cost.

No way. Instead they'll immediately download and read phD theses from Fresno State to determine which mode of transportation has the greatest pollution effect on agriculture!

Then they'll browse the EPA web page to find out the latest statistics on underground gas-station tank leaks!

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I totally forgot that when consumers decide whether to drive, fly or train to LA they will totally disregard travel time, convenience, safety, ticket prices and fuel cost."

you are clearly not an economist

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Gregski said...

"you are clearly not an economist"

And you are clearly in need of a better sarcasm detector.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, Gregski, you have to understand that high-speed rail supporters are such Big Thinkers and visionaries that they are incapable of detecting irony.


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