California bullet train is worthy gamble according to the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times is still pining-away for an Anaheim to San Francisco bullet train despite new projections that tripled the cost from $33 to $98 billion, decreased maximum annual ridership from 117 million to 44 million, and more than doubled the completion time from 2020 to 2033.

Here is my letter to the editor with references added:

When the LA Times endorsed Proposition 1a, it was noted that the “densely populated” Boston-Washington corridor has 3 million high-speed train riders compared to the projected 117 million riders in the sparsely populated central valley (1). The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program estimated there were 6.4 million airline passengers between Los Angeles/Orange counties and the bay area in 2009 (2). The latest projection is between 29.6 and 43.9 million train riders per year (3).  Where are these fictitious riders coming from?

Assuming the highest ridership number of 43.9 million at the highest ticket price of $123 and the highest annual net profit of $3.7 billion (3), it would take 57 years to pay off the debt assuming no interest on the bonds, no operating costs to run the trains, and no maintenance of trains or tracks needed.

This quote from the editorial is incredulous,”unlike freeways that require continual government expenditures to maintain, the train would (sic) self-sustaining”. Those “continual government expenditures” are our gas-tax dollars that are continually siphoned-off to pay for other things. Iñaki Barrón of the International Union of Railways estimates that there are only two high-speed rail lines in the world that make a profit or break even (4). All the others must be subsidized by “continual government expenditures”.

(1) http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/02/opinion/ed-endorsements2
(2) http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2009/1008_air_travel_tomer_puentes/1008_air_travel_appendix_3.pdf
(3) http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1102-bullet-train-20111102,0,4649590,full.story
(4) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/business/energy-environment/30trains.html?em

Even with the new projections, the LA Times is still living in Fantasyland.

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3 Responses to California bullet train is worthy gamble according to the Los Angeles Times

  1. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our location library but I think I learned far more from this post. I’m quite glad to see such wonderful information being shared freely out there.

  2. Pingback: Chicago Tribune derails Los Angeles Times | RicRx

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