Feature

California can’t afford bullet trains

High-speed rail is nothing but a gold-plated fantasy, and “it’s still not too late to hit the brakes,” said Charles Lane at The Washington Post.

Charles Lane
The Washington Post

High-speed rail is headed for a dead end, said Charles Lane. A new review panel appointed by California’s legislature concluded last week that the state should not issue $2.7 billion in bonds to start work on 130 miles of track for a proposed “bullet train” through the San Joaquin Valley. Gov. Jerry Brown wants to go ahead anyway, insisting that the state has to commit to high-speed rail now, or lose out on $3.3 billion in federal funding. But it’s absurd for a state facing “chronic deficits, tax increases, and social-spending cuts” to gamble billions on high-speed rail, when all evidence indicates that it would be a colossal waste of money.

In 2008, California voters approved a high-speed rail system stretching from San Diego to Sacramento on the premise that it would cost $33 billion. But the projected cost has since soared to $98 billion. The market for high-speed rail, meanwhile, seems more dubious than ever. Flying between Los Angeles and San Francisco takes but an hour and is relatively cheap, and good luck getting Californians out of their cars. High-speed rail is nothing but a gold-plated fantasy, and “it’s still not too late to hit the brakes.”

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