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So initial funding for the high speed rail from SF to LA has been approved.  It's going to take a decade or more for this to come to reality, although I suspect this will be frought with budget issues, lobbying, angry home/farm owners.

In the end, the savings to less driving, airports, airplanes, could be a cost savings, and commute down to LA from SF is estimated at 2:40, which I think is faster than total airport time

This is the largest infrastructure project in United States.

What do you think?  Will this be a success?  Or continue to spiral CA down into debt.
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Glenn Costello's profile photoJames Fierce's profile photoJames Cioban's profile photoDan Gillmor's profile photo
28 comments
 
It's going to be a financial disaster IMHO. This is pork project at its worse and won't even serve 1% of the Ca population. 
 
This makes me so cross and the number one reason I loathe California. How dare they allocate funds to luxuries when the education system is crap. California is 47th. Seriously. What the heck. 
 
Mona, is CA public education 47th?  Or kids overall?  (Many folks I know send kids to private schools now)
 
Yep there are a lot of other places the money could go and serve the people of CA better.

I love technology and shiny new things and I even like the concept here and agree that it would be way cool...just don't think it's practical for the state of CA
 
Pretty sure it's the public Ed system in CA. On the flip side I think CA also has many of the brightest kids in the USA because certain schools in the state consistently win national science, math, computer contests and awards.

Problem is it's not consistent enough across the board
 
The stats ranks 47th in the country (the last time I checked) for public education. Which is fine and dandy for those who can afford to send their children to private schools or reside in affluent areas with excellent schools, but I'd argue the segregation is the reason people who are raised in California live with this myopia. (Phew. What a run-on. This topic gets me heated.)

It also angers me how there are schools that can't even afford toilet paper. Ugh. 
 
A white elephant, as designed -- and an invitation to California voters to say no to the small but absolutely essential tax hikes Brown has put on the ballot. What a fiasco.
 
I agree with you. My main objection to tax hikes these days especially in CA is the money NEVER EVER goes where they say it's going to go. They always say we need money for education but that's one of the first things they cut because they know it will upset the voters.

And don't even get me started with the cal teachers union leadership. They seem to suck up all of the funding but can't deliver a decent education to the majority of students even though they are among the highest paid teachers in the USA. Complete lack of innovation
 
Count me out when it comes to bashing teachers. I'm going to vote for the tax hike, too -- all I'm saying is that the train-to-nowhere spending is counterproductive in every way.
 
Having lived in Europe for 10 years, I am baffled that the number economy in the world doesn't have anything close to a high speed rail system as its neighbors across the Atlantic. I don't know all the politics of the California debate, but in general high speed rail reduces auto traffic and therefore helps the economy as goods and services can be transported more efficiently. Wouldn't all Californians welcome the thought of spending less time in traffic? In addition less cars on the road means less negative environmental impact. I hope what happens in California can be replicated throughout the country. 
 
Kevin, don't forget across pacific, Japan has bullet rail and China is investing 
 
It won't make a dent in the traffic in ca. All of the traffic, at least in SoCal, is people going back and forth to work and the region is so large and spread out, public transit isn't really a viable option either. Most people fly when they are traveling up to the bay area.


 
Japan has bullet rail that must be why their economy has been stagnant for many years
 
I don't think the bullet train has that much impact on the Japanese economy and I believe it works there because their population concentration is much more conducive to that mode of transport.

A bullet train may work better on the east coast where population is more concentrated and most of the cities out east have much better public transit that can link effectively with the bullet train. 
 
+James Fierce Nailed it -- hence Acela.

I'd also add how there are three airports in Northern California, two major airports in Southern California that offer multiple flights daily to shuttle people. California has much more problems to solve than adding a luxury.
 
+James Fierce assuming bullet trains are cheaper than flights, then this could spur on new travel and new forms of business interactions and tourists.  

I can imagine european travelers loving seeing CA via train.
 
We are terrible as a country, in business and public policy, at long-term thinking. Our decisions are made based on short-term measurements and not visionary planning. Part of the reason that China is such an economic threat is their cultural acceptance for thinking across generations. Same problem exists in our quarter-to-quarter obsession in public companies. I can't guarantee that public officials won't screw up the high speed rail project and turn it into another feckless wonder of CA. But, the conceptual framework is right. Too bad it likely ends bad for CA taxpayers.
 
+James Cioban China has certainly had a tremendous amount of historical upheaval and violence so I'm not sure I see your point. The horrendous pollution I've experienced there doesn't seem to show much multi-generational thought. Taken as given however, their extremely inexpensive labor, indifference to environmental hazard, and focus on stealing IP are much larger factors, that will carry them for a while. 
 
Having done that journey as a backpacker a few years ago on the  Greyhound, it boggled my mind there was no train to do that route. Seems a no brainer to me.
 
My final comment...let the voters of Ca decide if they think that the investment is worth it. The project has changed enough since the bill was originally passed that it's really the only fair thing to do. 

But see the problem is that the politicians don't want something that is fair and will benefit the people of california they want to: 

1. Leave a legacy
2. Line their pockets and those who are lobbying them for this
3. Lie to the public and sell them on benefits of this project that they know will never transpire

If you don't believe me study what's gone on with the project since it was passed by the voters. 

There is already a petition circulating to put a re-vote on the ballot. I will do my small part to make sure that the petition gets enough signatures to put this back on the ballot. Then the people who will ultimately pay for this will have the final say. 
 
It will be economically a disaster, but worth it from a PR standpoint, and from a convenience standpoint for the people who use it
 
The Pro & The Con. It look's like sixty forty for the train. If the politicians are in the way remove them from office.
 
+Francine Hardaway I'm a big fan of high-speed rail, but this boondoggle could poison the well for decades to come. I see only negative PR when people realize it's a train to nowhere...
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