An interesting article comes to us from the San Francisco Chronicle (sfgate.com). It sums up the status of the high speed rail project in California, in light of the fact that both the state and the feds are tapped out and are looking at huge deficits, leaving a rational mind to wonder where this project’s proponents think the billions necessary for its creation will come from. It’s a pretty good, balanced article. Carolyn Lochhead, California’s Bullet Train Plans’ Moment of Truth, July 24, 2011. If you want to read it in its entirety, click here
Follow up. The Los Angeles Times, Dan Weikel, Bullet Train Forecasts Questioned, July 29, 2011, at p. AA4, (click here) brings the news that an internal review of the data underlying the California high speed rail plans, performed by the California High Speed Rail Authority, indicates that they are unreliable. For openers, “forecasts of up to 117 million annual riders by 2030 — which have helped support predictions that the system would generate billions in profits — need to be recalibrated to be more conservative and better reflect important factors that could affect ridership.” * * * “Ridership forecasts are crucial for the project’s 500-mile first phase, which would link Los Angeles and San Francisco.”
So if the LA Times is to be believed, fortunes have already been spent (with more to come) on a rail project as to which no one can reliably say that its benefits will come anywhere near its cost. Those forecasts “form the basis of calculating ticket income, the amount of public funding required, stations needed, as well as the size and number of trains to be purchased.” Other than those few niggling details, it’s a jim-dandy set of projections.