Friday, March 02, 2018

"Like watching the Titanic sink in slow motion over and over again"

John Pritchett

Randal O'Toole on the high-speed rail project:

...The authority recently admitted that the first section of the project, which was supposed to cost $6 billion, is now expected to cost $10.6 billion. That’s the cheapest segment of the line because it is flat Central Valley of the state. Getting from there over the mountains to Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will require expensive tunneling at both ends, including a 13.5-mile tunnel that is expected to cost anywhere from $5.6 billion to $14.4 billion.

The total cost of a truly high-speed line all the way from L.A. to San Francisco is almost certainly going to be more than $100 billion, and it won’t be complete until sometime in the 2030s at the earliest. A representative of the airline industry pointed out that, for just $2 billion and eighteen months, the state could start a high-capacity airline service between the two cities — and sell the planes if it doesn’t work out. Though rail proponents say that downtown-to-downtown train times will be comparable to flying, the Los Angeles area has five airports and Bay Area has four...

All this is irrelevant, however, in the eyes of one of California’s leading rail nuts, Rod Diridon, Sr. He’s the one who thinks that “mass transit is the only answer to gridlock” when in fact mass transit has failed in Silicon Valley, where he headed the region’s transit agency, and in general it is the cities that are spending the most on transit that are closest to gridlock.

In Diridon’s latest opinion piece, he argues that high-speed rail’s objective is “to efficiently bring employees to work and clear roads to move products to market.” In Diridon’s fantasy world, people who work in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley are going to live in the “affordable” Central Valley and commute to work by high-speed train.

“Only a small fraction of those daily Central Valley trips need to ride the train for profitable operation,” claims Diridon. Of course! That must be why the Altamont Commuter Express, which takes commuters from homes in Stockton in the Central Valley to jobs in San Jose, is so profitable. In 2017 it collected $26.6 million in fares against $8.6 in operations and maintenance costs. 

Whoops! Got that backwards. It collected $8.6 million in fares but spent $26.6 million on operations and maintenance...

Rob's comment:
The project was sold with the promise that the system would be paid for by its users and that no public money would be used to operate it if/when it's ever built. See pages 8 and 9 of the legislation.

See also Quentin Kopp's declaration:

"The statutory scheme in Proposition 1A assured voters there would be no state, local or federal operating subsidy for HSR. I repeatedly assured groups of voters of that statutory and bond measure prohibition."

Best comment to the LA Times story linked by O'Toole:

This is the most nightmarish project in the history of the state and also our country. It's like watching the Titanic sink in slow motion over and over again. People's lives are being DESTROYED in the Central Valley by this group of idiots--both at the CHSRA and politicians--who are too stupid or greedy or both to pull the plug on this boondoggle.

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Dan and Tom are working on it

Later: Dan came through with a link to the rather innocuous report.


I will forward your request to Tom, and one of us will get back to you.

Thank you,

Dan Coleman, Fleet Analyst
Fleet Management / Central Shops
City County of San Francisco

From: Rob Anderson [
Sent: Sunday, February 18, 2018 1:48 PM 
Subject: Report in Sunday's Examiner Story 

Can you provide a link to the study referred to in the Sunday edition of the Examiner?

Rob Anderson

Click on "City Cars" below for earlier posts on the issue.

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A story involving a Norwegian yacht, an escort, and her Instagram posts featuring a prominent oligarch are capturing Russia’s attention—and may represent a new and bizarre twist in the story behind Moscow’s links to the Trump campaign.

In a 25-minute video published on YouTube Thursday morning, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny accused Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko—a top foreign policy official—of having been a conduit between the Kremlin and an oligarch linked to the Trump campaign.

With a mix of news clips, Navalny presented the case that during the 2016 election Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a past business associate of Paul Manafort, the indicted former Trump campaign chairman, passed to the Kremlin inside information about the Trump campaign he obtained from Manafort. Navalny also cites social media posts from Nastya Rybka, a Russian model and escort who has claimed to have been Deripaska’s mistress and who has written a memoir about their supposed affair titled A Diary of Seducing a Billionaire.

Navalny’s video, produced in the style of a late-night news show, features a recording made by Rybka when she was with Deripaska on his yacht sailing off the coast of Norway. Her video includes photos of Deripaska sitting next to a man who looks very much like Prikhodko, and it includes audio of Deripaska saying the following to Rybka: “We’ve got bad relations with America. Why? Because the friend of Sergey Eduardovich, Nuland is her name, is responsible for them. When she was young, she spent a month on a Russian whaling boat, and after this, she hates the country.” 

“Sergey Eduardovich” is a term of respect for Prikhodko, made from his first name and patronym. “Nuland” refers to Victoria Nuland, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs...

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