GOP vs. bullet train

Republicans in California no longer have much influence. But they still can exercise the bully pulpit.

They did so last week, calling to put the bullet train before voters again. According to Capitol Weekly:

California Republicans, long opposed to the $68 billion high-speed rail plan backed by Gov. Brown, say it’s time to dump the bullet train and spend money instead on critical transportation infrastructure.

“I think people are tired of the train and tired of waiting for the train,” Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway of Tulare told reporters. “They’re standing at the train stop and the train is not coming.”

Republicans said California has some $296 billion in unmet infrastructure needs, and contended their proposal would grow the state’s economy by up to $140 billion.

But before that can happen, they added, voters must first recast their votes on the high-speed rail project they approved in 2008.

That seems unlikely to happen. There’s no reason why Democratic leaders in the Legislature would want to buck Gov. Jerry Brown on his pet project, on which he thinks he’ll build a legacy to surpass that of his father, Gov. Pat Brown, who built waterways, freeways, universities and K-12 schools.

The fact is, though, that aside from the $9.9 billion for the bond and the $3.5 billion President Obama shoveled out for this supposedly “shovel ready” project, nothing will be spent on the high-speed choo-choo. Voters aren’t going to approve any more. The teachers’ unions will insist that any extra future revenues go to schools, not the train. And the U.S. House of Representatives this November likely will see increased control by anti-train Republicans.

Any money saved somewhere also is unlikely to go to the state’s infrastructure needs, as Republicans are urging. Even if some infrastructure money is spent, it will go toward diamond lanes, renewable energy research and non-high speed mass transit, not to building more roads, dams and reservoirs.

State policy from AB 32 and SB 375 is to squeeze people out of their cars and suburban homes into mass transit and high-rise buildings. There’s no chance these bills will be repealed.

Those who wish to live in suburban homes to raise their families, with rapid commutes to work on efficient freeways, will have to find it somewhere else.

10 comments

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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 February, 2014, 08:28

    The GOP in California is reaping the wrath of distrustful voters due to Herr Arnold, Pete Wilson’s Proposition 187 and a continual parade of bloated/nouveau rich candidates qualified as a stone bouncing down Half Dome in Yosemite for major public office.

    Move on with Jerry Brown, for he is moderate in budgeting and policy making and you know it. It could be a lot worse when eyeing those bench reserves waiting their turn to lead California.

    Reply this comment
  2. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 9 February, 2014, 10:34

    I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the politicians aren’t talking about the practicality or net public benefit, or lack thereof, of an alleged ‘bullet train’. Since when has a politician ever been interested in actual outcomes?

    I just went over to the Orbitz website. As long as I book a week in advance I could purchase a round trip flight from LAX to SFO for $116. No doubt a stingy consumer could even find an even better price than I did during the 30 second search. And your flight time, liftoff to touchdown, is right about one hour.

    Now we know from the other cost estimates on previous government projects that this $68B monstrosity will end up costing way north of $100B. Once they start laying track we’ll be locked in and add-on costs will not be an option. We know that from past experience on everything from road projects to health systems. Cost estimates are never overstated, but always understated.

    Okay. Even if this ‘bullet train’ lives up to it’s name – how long would it take you to get from LA to SF? It wouldn’t be like a non-stop Delta flight. There would be stops along the way to pick up more passengers. Probably at least 3. If you’ve ever ridden a train you know these stopovers take 20 minutes at least. That’s an hour wasted right there. The total time it would take you to fly from LAX to SFO. lol. So if the ‘bullet train’ could theoretically travel from LA to SF in, let’s say, 3.5 hours, tack on another hour for stopovers.

    Now consider travel fares. LAX to SFO = $116. Today an Amtrack fare from LA to Oakland (an 11 hour trip) with a connecting bus into SF is about the same as a one-hour plane flight from LAX to SFO. lol. No joke. Riding a train for the first time is sort of fun. Kids like it. It’s a novelty. But it gets old fast.

    So how much would the ‘bullet train’ fare cost you? Undoubtedly much more than the $59 one-way saver fee (non-refundable)w/Amtrack. Probably at least double the Amtrack fare. Afterall, they’d have to recoup that $100B+ investment somehow.

    Come on, folks. Who in their right mind is going to sit on a train for 4 hours and pay 2x or more than what it would cost you to fly in one hour unless they have lots of time and money to waste? Would you rather be sitting on the dock at Fisherman’s Wharf eating warm buttered sourdough bread and sipping on a beer with the money you saved or riding on a train with screaming kids all around you? Duh.

    The reason this society is so screwed up is because politicians never ask these practical or common sense questions and never concern themselves with outcomes. All they care about is keeping daddy sugar happy and arranging for their next meal ticket.

    Your political system is totally broken.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 10 February, 2014, 19:07

      Now we know from the other cost estimates on previous government projects that this $68B monstrosity will end up costing way north of $100B.
      It will cost north of $250 BILLION.
      Cost estimates are never overstated, but always understated.
      You mean CalTURDS over estimates income and under estimates expenses NO WAY. I refuse to believe it 🙂

      Next you’re going to be telling me Jerry Clown’s budget over estimates income and under estimates expenses, and that counties and cities do the same, I just do not believe it, government would NEVER lie like that.

      Oh wait, they did that with SB400 and every Governor has done it with every state budget since 1970…MY BAD 😉

      Reply this comment
  3. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 9 February, 2014, 10:49

    Even Connie Conway doesn’t seem to get it. She thinks the biggest problem is waiting for a late train! lol. Connie, get a clue. Read my comment, dear.

    But she does have a minor point. Trains are notoriously late with departures and arrivals. Even moreso than airliners.

    But we need someone like Ross Perot in the State legislature who gets out the magic marker w/ the big meeting writing board, draws some pictures and fills in the dollar and cents. And dumb the presentation down to about the 5th grade level. Maybe that would get some results.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 February, 2014, 12:50

    Trains are good for California folks. Period. End of story.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 9 February, 2014, 13:29

      Simple opinion for simple minds. Would make for an excellent ‘bullet train’ marketing slogan….’Trains are good for California folks. Period. End of story’….Email it to Jerry. If adopted he may have a place for you in his public communications department.

      Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 February, 2014, 18:39

    Poodle …..back boy….back….your adorable….don’t ruin it.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 10 February, 2014, 19:12

    Poodle could you discreetly talk to Donkey.

    I think Collapso has soured him on our cynical verbalization of the usual nonsense topics the agenda writers pour on us to stimulate emotional responses.

    We all know trains are fun to watch…can’t we all get along together?

    Fair and balanced.

    Reply this comment

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