Wednesday, June 29, 2016

High-speed rail: "Wishful thinking" or "elaborate con"?


From Bloomberg View

Virginia Postrel

California's high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights. With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con...

Rob's comment:
Actually, only 52.7% of voters approved the 2008 measure, not 53.7%. The hed on the story is also inaccurate. The state hasn't "hit the brakes" on the dumb project yet, but this may be the beginning of the end.

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