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New rail line will allow trips between the Bay Area and LA in under 3 hours

California, a state of 37 million people, is fast growing and in many ways almost a country unto its own.  The state in many cases is the best-case scenario for high-speed rail in America, and thanks to voter approval, the state will be trying to implement precisely such a system, despite high costs.  The plan received a final green light via Senate ratification of a general funding bill [PDF] and will now begin.

I. The Nation's Largest Bullet Train Bid Takes Off

The project will build out high-speed lines between the San Jose/San Francisco are (southern California) and San Diego/Los Angeles (the Bay Area).  The first phase of construction will complete a line from Los Angeles to the central valley of California, while a second push will finish the connection to the Bay Area.

The project is expected to take up to 20 years to complete due to the massive construction effort needed, coupled with the expected hurdles such as suits from environmentalists and private property owners.

California High Speed Rail
[Image Source: U.S. DOT/State of Calif.]

But the payoff will be 2 hour, 40 minute commute between LA and San Francisco aboard a state-of-the-art 220 mph train.

The project is not without its dangers.  First and foremost, it is a very expensive bid for a state that is already cash strapped.  California is ponying up $4.6B USD, in return for $3.3B USD in grants from President Obama's Stimulus Bill.  The project will be financed by bonds, with $2.6B USD needed for the initial 130-mile stretch of track.


II. Ideological Divide

While voters in the state approved the bond plan, support in recent weeks sunk from 52 percent to 39 percent amid reports discussing the financial concerns.  The approval by the state senate was a close 21-16 vote along party lines.

At a time when many are calling for a return to conservatism in America, the sweeping expansion of one of America's largest socialistic institutions -- the government owned transportation lines (private-public rails, federal highways, state highways, etc.) is fodder for much debate. 
 
U.S. Federal Highways
Some conservative think tanks say we should be moving to privatize the federal highway system, not adopting broader socialism. [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Advocates argue transportation routing is a non-excludable good and by its very definition a "public good", hence an ideal candidate for mild socialism.  Some critics have gone as far as to suggest privatizing the federal highway system and scrapping high-speed rail bids, as well.

Many believe the project passed only due to heavy eleventh hour lobbying by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who swayed his party colleagues to overlook potential short-term fallout from their voter base.

III. Advocates Hail Victory as Job-Creator

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood comments, "No economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows.  With highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative."

President Obama was a vocal supporter of the plan.

Obama speaking
President Obama and his DOT say the project, which mixes state bonds and federal funds will drive job growth. [Image Source: U.S. Aid]

Europe, China, and Japan all have high-speed rail systems.  However, rail in the U.S. is light in both speed and usage.  In theory high-speed rail systems have many advantages, including speed, congestion reduction, and cost.  However, U.S. rail projects have suffered from budget bloat and from the challenging of dealing with the U.S.'s sparser population outside its cities.

Critics are swift to point to failures overseas, such as China who recently was forced to slow trains along its burgeoning $1T USD line due to allegations of corruption and substandard construction materials.  However, Germany, France, and Japan all have very successful systems which service millions and have opened new economic opportunities.

President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown believe the new line will create jobs, and they're both eager to put their money where their mouth is.

IV. Critics Sound Off

State Sen. Tom Harman (R, Huntington Beach) conjured the spectre of the embattled $398M USD Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska, which was colloquially referred to as the "bridge to nowhere" in the 2008 presidential race.  He commented, "It's unfortunate that the majority would rather spend billions of dollars that we don't have for a train to nowhere than keep schools open and harmless from budget cuts."

The comment may seem a slight to Bay Area residents, but the rhetoric stems from the fact that the first phase of construction will only travel through the central valley region of the state, stopping short of the Bay Area.  The Bay Area will be connected in the second phase push.

State Sen. Tony Strickland (R, Moorpark), a Republican running for U.S. Congress in the fall, comments, "This bill is spending money we just simply don't have here in California."

California high speed train
California is racing ahead with high-speed rail, despite objections.
[Image Source: U.S. DOT/State of Calif.]

Indeed, the timing might not be ideal, but for better or worse Calif. is forging ahead with high-speed rail.  Amid a divided state government and equally deep ideological divides across the nation as a whole, all eyes will surely be on this bold experiment in transportation and union/state mixed socialism in years to come.

Sources: Calif. State Senate, Sen. Steinberg, DOT



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What this article fails to mention...
By Pneumothorax on 7/9/2012 12:52:05 PM , Rating: 4
Is that this is just a 'down-payment' on a >$100 billion train wreck. Also 2 billion dollars were diverted ILLEGALLY (original intent of bill that voters voted for was that ALL the money go to HS rail) to upgrading metrolink/BART to BRIBE the fricken idiots in Sacramento. Also, N ONE is going to want to ride the finished system where you're going to have to haul your luggage when switching from 2-3 different BART/Metrolink SLOW SPEED RAIL trains on EACH side of the HS rail as the HS rail isn't even going to come close to the LA/SF city centers.




RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 1:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/9/2012 2:25:04 PM , Rating: 3
LOL.

I don't know which state is more of an embarrassment... Florida (and the countless, hilarious criminal stories that pour out of that state) or California and its ineptitude at managing its finances.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 3:48:10 PM , Rating: 5
That's easy, California. Florida's criminals just generally impact Florida. But when States and the Government are going bankrupt, it's nice to know California still finds ways to waste all of our money.

If you added up every project in California that was supposedly going to "create jobs" and boost the economy, they would have a GDP greater than the whole planet.

This is "shovel ready" all over again. How is a train going to boost the economy and create jobs? It might make it easier to GET to jobs, sure. And the temporary "boost" from construction funds might factor in, but you can't boost any economy with public money. And jobs don't magically get created because you can ride a train to get to them!

But true economic stimulus and job growth because of the train? That's just another tax and spend Liberal pipe dream. It doesn't work that way in real life.

I've never seen a public transportation plan in action that even comes CLOSE to paying for it's operating expenses. Let alone the hundreds of billions in construction costs. But in Leftville, yearly operating deficits equal economic gains!!


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By foolsgambit11 on 7/9/2012 5:27:20 PM , Rating: 3
Really? You can't boost any economy with public money? Thank you for your keen economic insights; I'm sure you're a reputable source of information on economic theory.

Considering this project is supposed to take, what, 20 years to complete, I wouldn't call the construction boost temporary, either. While the situation is different now than in the past, railroads have been major boosts to economies in the past. They still provide efficient cargo and passenger transportation.

I'm not saying this project makes sense - I'm just saying you don't.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 5:53:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can't boost any economy with public money?

The track record for attempts to do just that is fairly abysmal.

quote:
Considering this project is supposed to take, what, 20 years to complete, I wouldn't call the construction boost temporary, either.

Then you don't know what "temporary" means. If there's a time limit, it's temporary. Further, since the project will be completed in stages, not all the jobs created by this project will extend the full 20 years. In fact, the only 20-year jobs probably created by this project will be awarded to political cronies who will spend two decades attending soirees and bumping elbows on the taxpayer dime.

quote:
I'm not saying this project makes sense - I'm just saying you don't.

Are you sure you're not just projecting your own incoherency?


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By foolsgambit11 on 7/9/2012 7:42:46 PM , Rating: 1
No construction job is permanent. A career in construction is a series of temporary jobs. And you need to be less pedantic. 20 years, while not literally permanent, is, for all practical purposes, not temporary. If you're going to debate real world issues, you need to use real world sensibilities.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By vol7ron on 7/9/2012 9:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
I think the article already hit it: "suits from environmentalists and private property owners"

It's the lawyers, politicians, and lobbyists that continue to "get paid". Sure there will be a construction boom that comes with lots of jobs. After all, someone has to lay the track, build the foundation, transport the materials, dig/cut/supply the materials, build the machines, lay the pipes, etc. But they won't make what the lawyers and the politicians hope to make.

Truthfully, I think this country could use a bullet train. It's long overdue and there needs to be better transportation along highways, BUT if the Federal Government is looking to contribute, I would like to see something that goes interstate, not intrastate. A train from LA to Vegas would make me happier for a train I'm never going to use. Still, why not increase the highway speed limits that the Federal Government gives kickbacks for. We've seen an interstate speed go up 10mph and traffic reduced dramatically - I shiver at the thought of what the autobahn might accomplish.

I would like to see a train go on the east coast, perhaps between Boston, NYC, Baltimore, DC, and Norfolk - you know, where business actually gets accomplished :) Not only is the land flatter, but it's easier to plan for a hurricane than earthquakes.


By othercents on 7/10/2012 9:18:17 AM , Rating: 4
I hope the government isn't using France, Germany, and Japan as indicators on how well the bullet train will do. Except for France the other countries are smaller than California, however they also have much denser population which means more riders. Example: There are 127 million people in Japan and California has 37 million. Also except for Germany the other countries were not built around the automobile. I know in most cases people in Japan don't have cars since they are not economical especially since everything is so congested.

I like the idea of a bullet train between key cities in the US, however in most cases you are only going to reduce the number of people flying. Most cities need a better public transportation system that will ease traffic issue in cities. The best bang for our buck will probably be an autobahn across the country. At least then you have a platform that can be replaced by rail in the future.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/10/2012 10:57:31 AM , Rating: 3
Good point! We're all driving vehicles designed to cruise at 90+ MPH perfectly stable, but the freaking speed limits are still 55mph on average. That's absurdly slow.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By abscode on 7/10/2012 1:27:13 PM , Rating: 1
Uhhhh... yea, if all cars where new... if all cars performed the same way... if all roads were designed to handle such speeds... if everyone kept their tires properly inflated and within wear limits... if everyone kept their brakes up to par... if everyone paid strict attention to their driving... if grandma's mind was 30 years younger...

My my, things sure get nuanced once we start to thinking about all the factors and stop thinking in narrow terms.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/10/2012 2:09:54 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't say what speed would be acceptable, I just said 55mph was too slow in my opinion.

You can take your big bag of "what if's" and go have fun though. Life is an adventure, accidents sometimes happen, safety is not guaranteed. Don't be a nanny.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By abscode on 7/10/2012 2:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
No nanny-ing, its just a complicated issue. Most of those are not fringe what-if's but majority issue.

For what types of roadways do you think 55 is too slow for? For every state, except Hawaii, the rural freeway limits are above 55. For a lot of urban freeways, around 32 states have limits that are 55 and/or below. For divided rural roads, around 20 states have 55 and/or below. In some of these cases, it can be higher, but includes the slower.

When I travel to the east coast (specifically, MD and DE), it drives me crazy that rural freeways are 65 and divided rural is 55. Perhaps they are lower than I am used to to account for seasons where the weather is colder and wetter -- also the times I don't travel to those parts.


By integr8d on 7/10/2012 6:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
In Los Angeles, the speed limit is 55 on the highways. But I think that's actually just the average speed because we're either going 15mph or 105mph. There really is no in-between.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 6:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Really? You can't boost any economy with public money? Thank you for your keen economic insights; I'm sure you're a reputable source of information on economic theory.


Yes why actually refute a statement with facts when you can be cynical?


By Dorkyman on 7/11/2012 11:40:50 AM , Rating: 3
As an ex-Californian, I find this story just remarkable. A bankrupt state barges on ahead with plans to spend $100B on a boondoggle.

I especially love the part where the rail line will be built in stages. I can imagine, oh, say 10 riders a day from LA to Bakersfield. Oh yeah, THAT'LL help balance the books.

What a crock. I remember Jerry Brown when he was governor the first time. There's a reason we all called him "Gov. Moonbeam" back then.

Still, Californians get what they deserve. They could have elected a pragmatic businesswoman (Whitman) as gov. Instead they opted for Moonbeam.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/10/2012 10:24:35 AM , Rating: 2
And I'm really surprised I have to be the one to point this out, but the reason these projects take 20 years and have budget over-runs four and five times higher than initial projections is because....

...that's intended. All of this construction work will be given to the same union contractors which give kickbacks to the same politicians, and whom probably have connections to organized crime, and who seek to soak the taxpayers for a continuing boondoggle. It's a culture of corruption, and they are the only ones who will get any "stimulus" from this.

That's why Democrats and Lefties love "infrastructure" spending. Unions and "collective bargaining" are the best kinds of campaign fundraising for the Democrat party. It buys votes and keeps them in office, and if they can convince mouth-breathing masses of people that it's an economic stimulus, well so much the better.


By wookie1 on 7/10/2012 12:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
Another big reason is that if the voting public knew what the actual cost was up front, it would be much harder to move it forward without getting voted out by the non-union voters.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:50:30 AM , Rating: 1
Sorry, real Americans will just have to build this high speed railroad. I'm sure you prefer importing chinese people and mexicans though but its the 21st century and they've progressed far past that.


By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2012 11:23:49 AM , Rating: 1
Every time you post it's some comment that's really fucking stupid, off topic, and nonsensical. You should probably go get that checked.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By JediJeb on 7/10/2012 3:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
The real question would be why it will take 20 years to build it. The Transcontinental Railroad was built in six years going from Sacramento to Iowa and they didn't have the interstate highway system to provide transportation of the labor and materials needed to do the work or computer drafting and engineering software to help calculate all the necessary problems that go with an engineering feat such as this. Of course they also did not have environmentalist trying to stop them ever inch of the way either, so that has to be considered. The thing is if it really needed to be done they should be able to do the project in at least half as much time as projected. Even though there are problems with the one in China, they managed to build theirs on a much shorter time frame, so what keeps up from doing work in a timely manner now days?


By knutjb on 7/10/2012 8:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
The transcontinental railroad wasn't encumbered with the: EPA and other federal acronyms wanting their own 10 year studies not liking their or the other's results and then wanting to do another 10 year study, environmentalists who don't want progress of ant kind, land owners not wanting a railroad until someone writes a massive check for their mostly worthless property (back then it put you on the map and money in the bank to have one), whomever has their panties in a twist, and whatever bureaucrats invent to add to the rules.

No, I am not against rational rules. We don't have rational rules. I spent several years in the military tracing end-user rules back up to the originating federal law. I was astounded how creative rule writers were. Much of the stuff they invented had little to no relevance to the law. The vague laws don't help either.

My question is who is getting all the money, I know we are getting the shaft.

BTW LA to San Fran? Disneyland to LA to Vegas is the sensible route in Ca. If LA to San Fran were so great the railroads would be doing it now. They don't because passenger rail travel is a money loser. Amtrak has not made money yet and likely never will so long as the government has their fingers in it.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2012 12:41:59 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The real question would be why it will take 20 years to build it.


Unions and Government regs.

It also only took a year and a few months to build the Empire State building!


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:44:00 AM , Rating: 2
The Empire State building was also built during the stock market crash and following great depression.

Visionaries decided to go ahead with construction despite the fact the economy was in a shambles and everybody was in debt.

If Luddites like the anti-rail people here were in charge back then, the Empire State would just be a statuette on somebody's desk.


By KoS on 7/11/2012 11:01:48 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize there is a big difference between the two? One is funded by public money, while the other was privately funded.

Right now the public doesn't have the money to purchase a high speed train. Back then, John J. Raskob and Pierre S. du Pont had the money to finance the construction of the Empire State building. Not everyone was in debt up to their ears back then.


By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2012 11:19:33 AM , Rating: 2
You missed the point entirely....wow


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Manch on 7/10/2012 8:04:47 AM , Rating: 2
Here lies problem...

quote:
President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown believe the new line will create jobs, and they're both eager to put their money where their mouth is.


This would only be OK if these two were private investors, and were actually using their own money.


By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/10/2012 8:43:44 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, just because they print it, they believe it's theirs.

Doing the math, the Federal government's part amounts to about $10 per man, woman, and child in the US. That's just to ante-up.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By kaborka on 7/9/2012 2:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
A terrorist's dream. Imagine the carnage a well-placed IED could cause a 200MPH train.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By omnicronx on 7/9/2012 3:04:15 PM , Rating: 3
A well placed rock could take out a non 200MPH passenger train.. So what exactly is your point, and how is this more susceptible?


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By lightfoot on 7/9/2012 5:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
how is this more susceptible?

Uhh... Speed?

Derail a slow-ass Amtrak train and people get hurt, a few may even die. Derail a 200+ MPH train and everyone dies.

It is like being able to crash an airliner with a "well-placed rock."


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By ritualm on 7/9/2012 6:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
Germany's ICE trains had a spotty safety record without any natural disasters wrecking its lines. One wheel broke and an entire train derailed, killing and injuring lots of people.

Japan's Shinkansen top out at 180 MPH, in a locale with very high risks of tropical storms and earthquakes potentially destroying parts or all of entire lines, yet it has zero fatalities for 40+ years.

Want to crash an airliner? Aim your laser pointers directly at the cockpits of the planes. You don't need RPGs at all.

What a joke of a post.


By Ringold on 7/9/2012 10:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
It's a little harder then that to take down an airliner, I'd argue FAR more difficult than a train.

A trains infrastructure is almost all 100% critical, and covers such vast ground that it can't possibly be protected. A single point of failure anywhere along the path the train will be taking in the immediate future is fatal.

A modern commercial jets path is, for the vast majority of its journey, well above the effective range of small arms fire, and can absorb a good bit of small arms fire regardless, due to the ability to glide and pilot training making partial flight systems failure more of an annoyance then anything else. The infrastructure the jet needs is some of the most heavily, and easily, guarded land in the nation. Further, there's virtually always two pilots in the cockpit, so the loss of one isn't a big deal, and even the partial loss of both, so long as the pilots can manage to engage the typically triple or quadruple-redundant autopilot systems, is also not a real problem. And if an intended destination is completely compromised? No problem, there's probably a dozen more within 15 minutes flight of various sizes.

Commercial aviation claims, proudly and with full justification, to be the safety means of transportation. Trains, hugging the ground and being so fundamentally vulnerable such as they are, will never match the safety of aviation in terms of fatalities per passenger mile, or most any other metric you'd want to use.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:33:28 AM , Rating: 2
There are hundreds of laser incidents per year in the USA with commercial airliners. 99% are just jokers who bought some of those dangerous gray market high power lasers.

All you need is 1% real terrorists with proper laser equipment and you will have blinded pilots and crashed planes.

Even the worst crashed trains have fewer casualties than a typical airliner crash. You won't ever see an Amtrak version of Tenerife (583 dead)


By Ringold on 7/11/2012 3:19:48 PM , Rating: 1
As a pilot, I can say with pretty good certainty that, if blinded, I would know my cockpit well enough to touch and activate auto-pilot without sight, unless the laser was somehow powerful enough to render me unconscious. Unlikely.

Every pilot knows down to their bones the first three rules of flying: fly the plane, fly the plane, fly the plane. Losing the Mark I Eyeballs is serious, but far from fatal, not when there's a co-pilot, and not when there's other staff just seconds away that can be called up with the squeezing of a single button, who any pilot competent in the plane he is flying could walk through an idiot off the street in how to push a couple buttons to activate the landing function of the auto-pilot.

I'm not exaggerating, either, or making it sound overly easy. Poke a couple buttons, maybe twist a nob a little, boom, auto-pilot engaged. The plane will land itself. Pilots of these sorts of jets aren't pilots; a much more accurate description would just be system operator.

And no, Amtrak will never have a 583 casualty count in one incident, but that's because Amtrak probably only carries 583 passengers a year. :P Seriously though, you know full well if a high-speed train ever flies off the tracks, it's game over for everyone aboard. Further, train wrecks happen all the time, minor or not, but several years separate major aviation incidents, despite the fact millions more passengers fly.

There's no comparison, not at all. You're presuming you're smarter then terrorists about the laser issue; if they thought it was that easy, and the odds are probably 100% that they've ATTEMPTED to do it, then they would've.


By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2012 3:24:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All you need is 1% real terrorists with proper laser equipment and you will have blinded pilots and crashed planes.


LMAO!!!

Do you know how small the eye is? So some terrorist is going to blind a pilot in a jumbling vibrating aircraft, traveling at high speeds, including being able to factor in the angle of deflection caused from the windshield?

I think someone has watched WAY too many movies...


By bjacobson on 7/9/2012 6:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'm upvoting th^H^H^H^H NO CARRIER


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By quiksilvr on 7/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: What this article fails to mention...
By phatboye on 7/9/2012 2:55:20 PM , Rating: 4
You obviously never been to California or driven on it's highways which are grossly overcrowded and very narrow. Also California has the same problem as UT Austin where majority of the students at one college campus come from the opposite side of the state.

Still you aren't going to build a multibillion dollar high speed railway simply for one college campus. California's transportation issues are far greater than a single college campus.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2012 3:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
I just support no state getting federal funding for high speed rail since they don't have the authority to give it.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:39:20 PM , Rating: 1
But they certainly have the authority to start wars.


By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
Edit: They meaning of course the Federal government and its funding.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2012 4:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
Are you actually trying to argue that the federal government does not have the authority to start wars?

If not they, then who exactly?

Article 1, Section 8 (on the powers of the federal government)

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Like it or not Congress VOTED to go to war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By omnicronx on 7/9/2012 4:34:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Are you actually trying to argue that the federal government does not have the authority to start wars?
I'm going to guess that was an attempt at a joke, and he is not serious..

quote:
Article 1, Section 8 (on the powers of the federal government)

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Like it or not Congress VOTED to go to war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
You do realize declaring war, and authorizing a war are not the same thing right?

So while you are correct that the Federal government surely has this power, I'm not sure why you quoted that specific text as the US has not actually declared war since WW2.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2012 5:25:39 PM , Rating: 1
The word used really doesn't matter. What does is that Congress voted for and approved military action. For a war to be illegal, it would have to be taking place in spite of Congress rejecting it.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Paj on 7/10/2012 11:06:01 AM , Rating: 2
Theres also the rest of the world to consider.


By FITCamaro on 7/11/2012 7:49:13 AM , Rating: 2
Not really.


By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
Congress never asked us to go to war. The reason is simple, if the voter is asked to go to war, they will never be able to get permission.

This is why you will never see a war vote of the people. The rich industrialists and military industrial complex get their way, but don't want your vote.


By wookie1 on 7/10/2012 12:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
What does war have to do with high speed rail? This is a non-sequitor argument.


By foolsgambit11 on 7/9/2012 5:36:27 PM , Rating: 2
Source? They had the authority to create the interstate system, right? Or was that an unauthorized and unjustified encroachment of federal powers? What about Congress' power to establish post roads? A railroad is a road. What is the difference that makes a road a post road, in a Constitutionally limiting sense? Can you cite a SCOTUS decision to support that Congress can't establish a fund for infrastructure project like this, to be executed by the Chief Executive?


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/12, Rating: -1
RE: What this article fails to mention...
By omnicronx on 7/9/2012 4:46:14 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
California if you want a train, great. YOU build the goddamn thing and leave our tax dollars, those who don't live there, out of it.
We are talking about pooled funds, a large chunk of which comes from California. So whom may I ask, is 'our' in this context..

As according to your logic, maybe every single cent of the funds distributed to other states should now come back to California.. You know.. because they don't live where these funds are going.

Now this is not to say I support the program, but you really have to stop beating this dead horse.. I've been gone a year and you are still spouting off the usual generic complaint that you post about anything that involves pooled federal funds.


By FITCamaro on 7/9/2012 5:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
The highway fund is to build interstate highways and bridges. Not commuter rail.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 5:26:57 PM , Rating: 1
And you're still the collectivist shill you were last year. So we're all in our comfort zone I see :)


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 6:03:00 PM , Rating: 3
But he's right: Other states benefit more from California than California benefits from other states. CA's economy going downhill is bad news because that's less Fed tax being redistributed out of CA and into, say, Ohio or something.


By ritualm on 7/9/2012 6:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
Pour the money into Michigan and it ends up being wasted. Detroit is beyond saving at this point, its entire muni government needs to be assassinated and replaced by people actually competent enough to run a city.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 6:01:36 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Why the fuck should I help pay for California's shortsightedness

Because CA's been paying for yours for years. Check CA's return on every dollar of Federal tax taken out of the state; it's among the worst, if not THE worst, in the nation.

In other words, the rest of the country profits more from CA than CA does the rest of the country.

Note: This is not to say that the rail plan is any good. CA will not at all benefit from this high-speed rail plan. But the fact remains that CA remains at a net LOSS in terms of Federal tax dollars, so it's not like Fed money coming into the state is inappropriate.


By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 6:36:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Check CA's return on every dollar of Federal tax taken out of the state; it's among the worst, if not THE worst, in the nation.


Hell does any state come out ahead in that deal? lol.

quote:
In other words, the rest of the country profits more from CA than CA does the rest of the country.


Sounds like "creative accounting" in play there. It's just not possible to tally up those kind of statements with 100% accuracy. There's WAY too many variables and intangibles.

And I don't accept the premise of your argument even if that was the case. That because CA pays more in taxes, building them a train is an appropriate use of Federal money. We're literally bankrupt as a nation, trains can wait.


By wookie1 on 7/10/2012 12:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
This is the problem with federal money funding state projects (well one problem, there are several others), states start to whine about how much one state "gets back" vs other states. States shouldn't get any back, because the fed tax money should only be used for national purposes. Of course that means much lower fed tax and power, so that will never happen. I don't have any sympathy if CA gets less in return than other states.


By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 5:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You obviously never been to California or driven on it's highways which are grossly overcrowded and very narrow.

YOU obviously have never been to California or you wouldn't be implying that this high-speed rail boondoggle would alleviate traffic concerns in the slightest. CA has traffic problems WITHIN ITS CITIES, not BETWEEN them.

The ONLY solution to CA's traffic problems is major overhaul of its (incomplete!) freeway system. Ironically, this overhaul is done because of the current political climate against "pollution"... pollution exacerbated by millions of cars idling in traffic!


By oopyseohs on 7/10/2012 6:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
As someone who lives in California and drives on its freeways daily, the problems you mention are more localized to the individual populated areas. There is traffic in Southern California. There is traffic in the bay area. There really isn't that much traffic on the freeways that connect them (5, 99, 101), unless there is a some kind of major accident on a remote stretch that takes hours to clear. I think there may be other reasons and benefits for this project, but from a strictly transportation standpoint, depending very much on ticket cost, this is a 2.5 hr trip that takes at most 2 hrs by plane (including arriving at the departure airport early).

Sure a train can hold more people than an airplane, but there must be hundreds of flights from LAX to SFO alone every day (not taking into account other major airports like ONT, SNA, LGB, SAN). In fact, I could very easily book a flight out of LAX to SFO right now for $140 that leaves in an hour and a half. Perhaps some people would prefer to take a train due to airplane anxiety or what not, but still


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Braxus on 7/9/2012 3:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
This is definitely going to become California's version of Boston's Big Dig.

Another thing that recently got tied to high-speed rail is funds to electrify CalTrain. More I read up on this project, the more admendments I find are being added outside the scope that people did not vote for.

Wondering at the end, how much will actually be spent on the high speed rail project and how much for other side projects that got added on.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Shig on 7/9/2012 6:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
Since the debate here seems to focus on 'collectivist money' being used only on one state. Let's look at it from an economic standpoint.

California's GDP in 2010 was higher than the combined GDP of Vermont, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Rhode Island, Maine, Idaho, New Hampshire, Delaware, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nebraska, Mississippi, District of Columbia, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.

The rest of the High Speed Rail 'collectivist money' will most likely be spent in the Northeast corridor (NY, Philly, Washington DC, Boston), the Texas Triangle, Midwestern linkages with Chicago, and Florida.

The roads are at capacity in most major cities, as are airports, what infrastructure would you guys propose for an increasing population? Investing in your most productive economic zones sure is an evil socialist plot amirite.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 6:05:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
what infrastructure would you guys propose for an increasing population?

Double-decked freeways designed with an eye towards longer-distance drives (greater distance between offramps on the top level vs. the bottom level) would handle things quite well. And don't give me the "earthquake" retort, because we have skyscrapers and towering interchanges already.


By ritualm on 7/9/2012 7:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Elevated freeways are already an eyesore and harshly divides areas, for no reason other than keeping road traffic slightly less congested. Double-decker freeways make it even worse.

Boston didn't Big Dig its downtown highways without a reason.


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 6:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
California's GDP in 2010 was higher than the combined GDP of Vermont, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Rhode Island, Maine, Idaho, New Hampshire, Delaware, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nebraska, Mississippi, District of Columbia, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.


Ah this talking point again.

Check the per capita rankings. California has the HIGHEST population in the country. Hello?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_b...

You and SPOOF have made a nice argument to point out that California has a healthy GDP. It seems however that you're willfully ignoring the the obvious. That they spend their money carelessly and recklessly!

Despite their praise-worthy GDP, California is in a budget crisis. Now they are hardly unique, lots of states have that problem. But how on Earth can you gross that much revenue and be broke? Oh I know, you appoint a bunch of Liberals and do sh#t like build trains nobody wants to use!


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By Shig on 7/9/2012 7:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
@ lowest gdp per capita, that's why rail is going in, more efficient transportation increases that number. Right now California wastes way too much money on sitting in traffic jams...the highest gdp per capita areas have the most efficient transportation and high population densities, like Manhattan. Ty for making an excellent point for high speed rail.

Austerity isn't the answer, infrastructure spending is one of the few good uses of money during a recession.


By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2012 8:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
infrastructure spending is one of the few good uses of money during a recession.


With money you don't have?


RE: What this article fails to mention...
By oopyseohs on 7/10/2012 6:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
An important piece of information that this article fails to mention (only because I very much doubt accurate information will be made available for another 20 years) is the price of a one way ticket. The most you're going to spend on a one way flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco is $200, and that's really only if you book day-of and are checking a bag.

The travel time of flying is also significantly less. Sure the train will provide greater levels of comfort and probably service, but if the price is the same as an average flight when booked in advance its still a tough sell - $50 one-way would be reasonable maybe. It's not like the route is along the coast and there are lots of nice sights to behold out of the window - it's through the central valley which is pretty monotonous and boring (I would know).

The only ways I can see this project being beneficial for California is through the creation of new jobs (a person could easily graduate college, start working on the project, and retire probably before it is finally completed), increased construction in areas around the stations and long the line, and, presuming those actually materialize, the consequent boost to the economy.

I would argue that functionally this is completely not needed.


By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:39:06 AM , Rating: 2
The price of airline tickets is likely to skyrocket due to fuel costs and aviation just getting that much more expensive with operating and maintenance costs of new aircraft.
Who hasn't encountered airlines creative ways of getting extra cash out of you because of this.


Misleading Headline
By magpie819 on 7/9/2012 2:01:45 PM , Rating: 2
The headline should read, "Other 49 states forced to pay for 50% of California's high speed rail project." - Approximate additional debt added to the Federal deficit over next 25 years is $250,000,000,000.

Actually, the Federal taxpayer will end up paying nearly all of the cost, since California will most likely file bankruptcy somewhere down the road, and there will be a huge political fight over a bail-out.




RE: Misleading Headline
By BZDTemp on 7/9/2012 2:10:50 PM , Rating: 1
Stop being silly.

I'm sure the other 49 states doesn't mind the huge contributions California has made over the years so it only seems fair to me.


RE: Misleading Headline
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2012 5:28:23 PM , Rating: 1
California didn't contribute anything. The people who live there did.

Man I hate you idiots who think our nation is this big drum circle where we just pass stuff around freely.


RE: Misleading Headline
By SPOOFE on 7/9/2012 6:06:33 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
California didn't contribute anything. The people who live there did.

Dumbest. Retort. Ever.

The people who live in California are part of California. You might as well say something like, "This guy didn't have a heart attack, his heart had a heart attack!"


RE: Misleading Headline
By wewter on 7/10/2012 2:57:17 PM , Rating: 2
No, he had a point.

The state is incompetent. The people IN the state are not all so.

Bureaucracies are dumb.


RE: Misleading Headline
By FITCamaro on 7/11/2012 7:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
At least you got my point.


RE: Misleading Headline
By Ringold on 7/9/2012 10:31:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm sure the other 49 states doesn't mind the huge contributions California has made over the years so it only seems fair to me.


California kicks in money, Florida, Ohio and other states contribute disproportionately more members of the military (which California colleges make a point of trying to kick out).

Shall we get out the wine and cheese and lament poor Peurto Rico, who sends tons of young men off to our military but has no right to vote?

Then there's other states that contribute less money as well, but conveniently hide in their vast sparsely populated expanses our nations nuclear deterrent.

Or Alaska, which I doubt contributes much per acre income tax money, but is a natural resources gold mine.

Considering California exports as much ignorance in the form of terrible policy as it does tax money, and all of the above, I see these points about California's tax contributions as smacking of desperation, a sign that the left can't think of any other intellectual defense.


RE: Misleading Headline
By omnicronx on 7/9/2012 3:15:58 PM , Rating: 4
Its pooled money.. a concept that seems to allude you.

Otherwise, if I were a Californian i could also make the case that 'We account for 14% of the US GDP, and 9% of all federal taxes collected.' This is merely a case of all those 'have not' states repaying their debt!


RE: Misleading Headline
By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is merely a case of all those 'have not' states repaying their debt!
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or... what.?


RE: Misleading Headline
By omnicronx on 7/9/2012 4:56:04 PM , Rating: 3
Either its sarcasm, or I actually reside in Cali and I'm dead serious.. You decide ;)


RE: Misleading Headline
By magpie819 on 7/9/2012 9:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
It's not pooled money. There is no pooled money. It will be additional debt. Any taxes collected today go to pay interest on the current debt and toward current budgeted obligations. There is nothing left over. Any new spending means additional borrowing.

All this does is speed up the approaching financial collapse. So, instead of getting high speed rail, you'll get high speed collapse.


RE: Misleading Headline
By web2dot0 on 7/9/2012 3:57:24 PM , Rating: 3
Good point.

While you are at it, maybe you should also point out the economic impact of California to the rest of the country. Just to give it some context.

But I guess that really doesn't count, since contributions are a totally separate entity. Who cares if they contribute right? I mean if they get a cent from the federal government, they must be leechers.

Why bother having federal grants or any type of government funding. That's just socialism. R&D? Doesn't make any money ... I mean why look for something as stupid as God's Particle (aka Higgs Boson)? Going to the moon? What a waste of money 40years ago. We should be putting all our brightest minds in oil drilling and flacking, and in the financial industry where economic productivity is at its highest.


RE: Misleading Headline
By ats on 7/9/2012 5:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
Meh, it should be close to something like: California calls in small amount of markers for money lent to other states, still has hundred of billions it is still owed by other states!

California has been a net contributor to the federal government and other states for decades.


Why even bother setting a budget anymore?
By karndog on 7/9/2012 12:49:59 PM , Rating: 5
Take that $7.9b budget and increase it by around 200%-300% and you'll get a much more accurate figure of the final cost.
Nothing the Government contracts stays under budget, and there are never any repercussions for not doing so.
Just hand the contractors a blank cheque and save yourselves the embarrassment.




RE: Why even bother setting a budget anymore?
By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:38:11 PM , Rating: 2
If the government is as hapless and wretched as you say perhaps we should incorporate it under the name of Haliburton. Surely with their valuable experience and effective project cost appraisals in Iraq we can trust the corporate business model to effectively implement our stated goals.


RE: Why even bother setting a budget anymore?
By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:48:46 PM , Rating: 2
As for my view of this deal, I sincerely hope we as a nation benefit from such a project and our governments both local and Federal don't f' this up.


RE: Why even bother setting a budget anymore?
By bupkus on 7/9/2012 3:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
Once more into the breach.

Of course if this project acts as a synaptic advantage to California's transport and communications needs, I only see more people moving there for jobs and even more congestion.

However, I had the impression that telecommunication was the alternative to actually being there.


By wookie1 on 7/10/2012 12:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not too worried about rapid job growth in CA. As taxes rise to pay for the bankrupt government, more people and businesses will flee to Nevada, AZ, OR, etc. which will necessitate even larger taxes on those who remain......rinse, repeat until CA begs for a federal bailout.


220 MPH is too slow
By HrilL on 7/9/2012 5:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
220 MPH is too slow. I mean honestly. they should be doing magleve tech for a train that goes 300mph. 20 years from now is so long too. So realistically as someone who is 25, I'll be lucky to ever see this completed in my life time with time and cost over runs that end up stalling the project not to mention all the lawsuits.




RE: 220 MPH is too slow
By wookie1 on 7/9/2012 7:58:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're right! It's way too slow. Airplanes cruise at >500MPH. Spending super $$$$ to up it to just over half of airplane speed and still have a fixed route doesn't seem sensical either. The cost overruns have already been huge and the project hasn't even started. The planning has already cost multiple billions, and the projected cost to complete has crossed $100B, up from something like $65B. What's going to happen after construction actually starts?


RE: 220 MPH is too slow
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:34:22 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel costs are a major issue in aircraft. Trains are more efficient even if they're slower.


RE: 220 MPH is too slow
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:36:29 AM , Rating: 2
While maglev is pretty cool, standard seamless rail is much cheaper and far more practical in terms of maintenance. France broke speed records on regular rails with a specially outfitted TGV.


What benefit, again?
By wookie1 on 7/9/2012 4:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
"But the payoff will be 2 hour, 40 minute commute between LA and San Francisco aboard a state-of-the-art 220 mph train."

Can't you already get between LA and SF in an hour by airplane at much lower cost? How many people actually make this commute on a regular basis? What if some other city becomes a more popular destination over the next 2 decades, you can't move the tracks. This is huge waste in every way, and I don't see why the rest of the country should pay for it.




RE: What benefit, again?
By web2dot0 on 7/9/2012 11:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
How many passengers can a airplane take?!??!?

There's a reason people have highspeed railways built. You make it sound like Trains are for losers and planes are for winners.

For LA and SF suddenly become unpopular destination? I guess we can also make that assumption about NYC, Boston, Chicago .... right .... Nothing is for certain, so why bother doing anything. Status quo is best!!

If you are going to have an argument, at least put some thought into your statements.
Ignorance is not an excuse.


RE: What benefit, again?
By wookie1 on 7/10/2012 12:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
You can much more cheaply re-arrange flights to meet the traveler's needs. Trains are fixed. They also have a huge capital cost, followed by huge ongoing operating expenses. They may be marginally faster than driving, but still much slower than flying. Unless massive subsidies are provided to lower the cost for the few riders (relatively) that they have by the millions that never ride, the tickets cost more than flying or driving as well.

CA is cutting funding for basic services that it normally provides, like schools, fire departments, and police because CA is flat broke and over-extended in debt. Somehow it's a good idea though to sink billions into a train to (and from) nowhere? The debt service and operating costs will weigh heavy on the budget for decades to come.

I think that CA's plan is to just go nuts with reckless spending and projecs like this, and then beg for fed bailout so that the rest of us can pay for their largesse.

I think that there's plenty of thought in my argument, BTW. You haven't advanced any winning argument for trains - what problem so they solve? Foisting the cost of some people getting from point A to B onto millions of others? Union jobs? What's the big plus side?

"Why bother doing anything" - exactly. Travelers can figure out if it makes more sense to them to drive or fly, or even take a bus like Greyhound. A balance of supply/demand, and price signals will ensure that enough alternate travel options are available, and many would prefer to endure the drive to save money. Big f'ing deal.


By DockScience on 7/9/2012 1:13:09 PM , Rating: 4
This investment of borrowed money to be paid off by our children (assuming they can ever find a job) will allow dozens of people per day to save minutes off the grueling 133 mile drive from Bakersfield to Fresno.




Still need a car.
By titanmiller on 7/10/2012 4:28:44 AM , Rating: 2
People don't ride trains because you still need a car at the end of the line to do what you need to do.




RE: Still need a car.
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:34:49 AM , Rating: 2
When I get off the plane what do I do, hop in a car.


Correction
By One43637 on 7/9/2012 4:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The project will build out high-speed lines between the San Jose/San Francisco are (southern California) and San Diego/Los Angeles (the Bay Area).


San Francisco / San Jose are in the Bay Area, LA and San Diego is in the south.




Anybody done the math?
By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/10/2012 9:02:22 AM , Rating: 2
This would be a great idea if it would increase Califorinia's productivity. If, on the other hand, it is primarily an election-year distraction to allow the administration to say it trying to provide jobs, and/or to give the governor of California a nice, new, shiny train set, I would say no.




Funny story...
By wewter on 7/10/2012 2:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
Both parties involved in financing this high-speed rail project are broke.

lol.




If it helps the pollution....
By johnsmith9875 on 7/11/2012 9:28:21 AM , Rating: 2
Then by all means high speed rail. Don't states get sanctioned or something when they have too many high ozone days?




Just 3 hrs?
By The Raven on 7/12/2012 7:22:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
New rail line will allow trips between the Bay Area and LA in under 3 hours
Does that 3hs include the ~2 hrs on each side of the trip needed for TSA screenings, checking bags, etc. like at airports?

No thanks, at least with the plane I won't have to breath cow S for what always seems like 10 straight mins at Harris Ranch ;-)




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