Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grand Theft Taxpayer. California outdoes itself this time.

Get your barf bag, because this is amazing.

A few days ago, the California High Speed Rail Authority presented "updated" versions of the numbers used in its analysis for the high speed rail that was approved by voters last year. The figures used to justify this project to voters turned out to be total fiction, just like many had warned.

From the
San Jose Mercury News: Ridership estimates have come down from an estimate of 55million users to 41million, and the estimates cost per ticket has come up from $55 to $105.

But don't worry, that's a GOOD thing, if you ask those in charge of this fraud, because the SPIRIT of the cause remains intact:

Authority Deputy Director Jeff Barker said while the numbers have changed, the "spirit of what the people voted for" with Proposition 1A remains the same. "What they voted for was to put $9 billion toward construction of a high-speed rail system," Barker said. "That's still what we have today. We're not asking the voters for additional money."
STUNNING. Defraud the voters using fake estimates, then tell us that the spirit lives on!
This didn't have to happen. The Reason Foundation, writing in the WSJ, pointed out the many alarming holes in the Rail Authority's plan. The assumptions were outrageous:
From the Wall Street Journal in October 2008:
The Rail Authority says the trains will carry 65 million riders each year. But the Reason Foundation's study gives a much lower estimate -- 23 million riders annually -- after looking at Japan and France, which have the world's strongest markets for rail. Neither country has achieved the kind of ridership California is predicting and both countries have far higher population densities in the cities served by their bullet trains than Los Angeles and San Francisco.
To attract riders, California's rail will have to out-compete cars and airplanes by keeping a lid on commute times and fares. To keep commutes short, the state legislature has put statutory limits on travel times. The Los Angeles-San Francisco commute, for instance, is legally required to come under two hours and 42 minutes. This is probably impossible because it would mean that the train will have to post average (not potential) speeds of 200 miles per hour, something that has not been achieved anywhere in the world, even in places whose flat topography allows for far straighter routes.
And as for fares, the Rail Authority is promising a $70 ticket between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This is about half of Japan's Tokyo-Osaka ($135) and France's Paris-Marseille ($140) train and far less than the $172 Amtrak charges riders traveling between New York and Washington -- all of which are shorter and, with the exception of Japan, heavily subsidized.

It seems that California is promising to build a train that is faster, cheaper, more efficient and serves more riders than any high-speed train in the world. And all it has to do to pull off this miracle is defy the laws of economics and physics.
Who knows what will happen with this proposal. Politicians and newspapers are happy to endorse this project regardless of the massive lies involved in peddling it to the public, all in the name of the "noble lie." The "noble lie" being acceptable because it's in the name of a good, popular cause.
Here's the SFChronicle's endorsement from October 8th last year. They cite concerns about ridership estimates, but are sure that the "safeguards" in the plan will make everything ok.
Yes on Prop. 1A: A 21st century Vision:
Opponents have seized on the understandable anxiety about a venture of this magnitude and have questioned everything from its cost projections to ridership estimates to its environmental benefits. In a meeting with our editorial board this week, they suggested the money would be better spent on relieving gridlock on regional roadways.
However, the fiscal safeguards on Prop. 1A were toughened substantially with the Legislature's recent passage of AB3034. It limited the amount of money that could be spent on administration or other items unrelated to construction. Also, construction could not begin on any segment of the project until it was certified that the funding for it had been secured. State funding would account for about half of the project; the balance would come from the federal government and private sources.

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