The state of California has wasted over $5 billion dollars on a so-far failed “bullet train.”
That would be enough to fulfill President Trump’s border security wall funding request.
City Journal reported that back in 2008, California voters approved a bond for a high-speed rail line connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles with the fast-growing cities in the state’s Central Valley. With trains running at 220 miles per hour on dedicated tracks, California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) would be the first true high-speed rail line in the U.S.
The project’s backers, including Governor Jerry Brown, promised that CAHSR would cost just $33 billion and be finished by 2022, including extensions to Sacramento and San Diego. It would whisk passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes—fast enough, if European experience is a guide, to convince most air travelers on that route to take the train instead.
Ten years later, supporters have ample cause to reconsider. CAHSR’s costs have severely escalated: the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) now estimates that the train’s core segment alone, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, will cost from $77 billion to $98 billion. Promises that private investors would cover most of the costs have fallen through. Forecasts for the project’s completion date and travel times have also slipped.
The fastest trains in the CHSRA’s current business plan have a running time of over three hours, and the first segment of the line—San Jose to Bakersfield, almost 200 miles short of completion—won’t open until 2029.
Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the border wall is a “luxury” our country “can’t afford.”
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The State of California has now spent over $5 billion on its long-delayed high-speed rail project — roughly the same amount of money that Democrats are refusing to provide President Donald Trump for his border wall proposal.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority, which intends to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles with a bullet train, was approved by voters in a 2008 referendum. However, barely any of it has been built. The cost of the train continues to rise; the technical difficulties continue to mount; and the public remains unconvinced of its value.
Lee Ohanian of the conservative Hoover Institution wrote last month:
The California High-Speed Rail project began in 2008 at an estimated cost of about $39 billion to build high-speed train service between Northern California, Southern California, and the Central Valley. Despite the project having been significantly scaled back, the price tag for the down-sized system is likely approaching $100 billion. The first passengers to ride on the key Los Angeles–San Francisco route are projected to board no earlier than 2033, which is a four-year delay over and above previous delays. After California has spent roughly $5.4 billion, the bullet train is going nowhere fast.
Governor Gavin Newsom once opposed the high-speed rail, but later reversed himself and now supports the project — though future funding is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress — led by California’s own Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of San Francisco — continue to oppose President Donald Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to build a “wall” — a bollard steel fence — along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, where a fence would be appropriate, along with other security measures.
As a result, the partial federal government shutdown is about to become the longest ever, exceeding 21 days.