Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail?

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

But the use of cap-and-trade money for high-speed rail could be problematic. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said in 2012[below in italics] that while the rail project could eventually help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, benefits would not be seen until after 2020, the year by which California is seeking to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

From the excellent California High-Speed Rail: An Updated Due Diligence Reportby Joseph Vranich and Wendell Cox:

CHSRA’s April 2012 Business Plan fails to provide any new information on greenhouse gas emission impacts and the Authority continues to use outdated and exaggerated data. The CHSRA website indicates that a single trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles on high speed rail would reduce GHG emissions by 714 kilograms, or 324 pounds. This is in stark contrast to the midpoint data developed in the University of California research, which found that greenhouse gas emissions on a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco would be reduced by 8 kilograms compared to travel by airline and 38 kilograms compared to travel by car. The CHSRA claim is thus an exaggeration of between nearly 20 and 90 times.

The New York Times provides this misinformation in both a photo caption and in the text of their story on the cap-and-trade idea: "If completed, the train line would take travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours 40 minutes. By car, the trip takes close to six hours."

The real competition for high-speed rail---in the unlikely event it's ever built---would be air travel, which takes only an hour from San Francisco, not the trip by car. And, as Quentin Kopp and others have pointed out, now that the project is supposed to be "blended" and sharing tracks with local rail systems, like Caltrain, it won't be able to make the trip in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The credulous NY Times reporter provides more baloney:

Rod Diridon, a former member of the rail authority who is now the executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, a California-based research organization, said the obstacles were hardly surprising for a project of this magnitude. “We’ve talked about the Golden Gate Bridge having 2,300 different lawsuits against it at one time,” Mr. Diridon said. “Big projects tend to have problems. I think it’s going to go. It may not even be delayed."

But the Golden Gate Bridge sold bonds to pay for the project before construction began, and the bonds were paid off in 1971, with $35 million in principal and nearly $39 million in interest raised from bridge tolls. The high-speed rail project doesn't even have enough money for its first segment in the Central Valley and little prospect of getting more, even if, as is also unlikely, the cap-and-trade idea makes it through the legislature and survives court challenges.

From the Legislative Analyst

Labels: , ,