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June 14, 2021

Water Cooler: Does cost cut change your view on the bullet train?

This week, panelists answered the question: California high-speed rail officials released a scaled-back budget cutting the cost from $98 billion to $68 billion. Does it change your view on its feasibility?

Jae Eade: “Absolutely not! The high speed rail is another unaffordable, green agenda nightmare that cannot be built for less than $150 billion. A big government boondoggle that will saddle the California taxpayer for generations and would never have the ridership to even support the operating costs let alone the construction costs.”

Marty Richman: “How can anyone give credence to estimates that drop dramatically with the political winds? The HSR authority is not looking for an accurate number, merely one they can sell to the public.”

Richard Place: “If they made a $30 billion mistake the first time why let them try again?”

Jim West: “Absolutely not. High-speed rail is a make-work jobs program like the Interstate Highway program was in the early 1950s. And like our system of freeways—thirty years after high-speed rail begins, no one will be able to imagine how we got along without it.”

Bill Mifsud: “No. This is a project that must be a go. The project will pay for itself in the long run. Gas will still be in high demand in the future and the high-speed rail will be a great alternative for those who can’t afford to travel.”

Richard Herrera: “It does not but it will take longer to reach our goal. This past weekend I enjoyed the Amtrak to the coast & I remain committed to high-speed rail.”

Ruth Erickson: “This new high-speed rail proposal sounds better on the surface, with $30 billion in lower pricing. The new proposal would route the first leg of the project from Merced to the San Fernando Valley near L.A. Present rights-of-way are not wide enough to handle present local commuter trains, freight lines and a ‘bullet train.’ How can present lines be upgraded to handle a bullet train? Where would the present local commuter trains and freight trains run? Would this project ever be finished? BART never was! Can we afford it? Fares will never pay for the new train however good it may sound. Too many questions, not enough answers!”

Louise Ledesma: “I have always been a supporter of the high-speed rail connecting LA-SF. I’m glad they found ways to cut back on costs and that it will extend to the San Fernando Valley by 2022. CA has terrible roads and we need to rethink the way we travel.”

Steve Staloch: “Yes, but It’s an estimate, which is government code for “estimate is for marketing and closing the sale purposes only, and excludes guaranteed and substantial cost overruns.” In other words, the original $98 billion would have come in at say, $130B, so the $68B will probably come in at the original $98B. Sadly, in terms of government accountability, it will be hailed as a fiscally responsible project.”

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