Jerry Brown’s California High-Speed Rail Is So 20th Century

google carCalifornia’s Governor Jerry Brown (D)
is supposed to be a visonary politician. Yet his support for
wasting $68 billion (the current estimate) to build a high-speed
rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco harks back to the
age of the adding machine and the slide rule. The rail line is
supposed to be completed by 2029. That’s right, 2029! The whole
world of transportation will have been massively transformed by

Autonomous vehicles will provide the bulk of personal and goods
transport by then. Computer-guided vehicles can be more tightly
packed on roadways and travel much faster than human-guided
vehicles. Gov. Brown’s high speed trains are supposed to travel
between LA and San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes. It’s very
likely that speedy autonomous vehicles by 2029 will be able to make
that trip in about the same amount of time traveling up Interstate
5, and do it door-to-door, rather than delivering passengers to
fixed stations. 

In addition, a significant proportion of Americans will no
longer own vehicles, but will summon and rent them as needed, thus
reducing the total number of vehicles on our roads. All this
implies that our current transporation infrastructure in currently
way overbuilt for our future needs.

California RailToday’s New York Times
details the problems
confronting the project, not the least of
which is that its defenders have no idea from where all the money
to fund it is going to come. According to recent polls, only 43
percent of Californians now support the boondoggle. In the Times,
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) notes:

Mr. McCarthy said the governor should not bother trying to
rescue the project, though he added that he understood why Mr.
Brown was standing by it. “They get so invested in it, they just
get blinded,” he said. “That’s why I think this time of year, New
Year’s, is the best time to step back and say: ‘I tried. It won’t
pan out.’ I think the governor would get big applause from
California voters saying that.”

Gov. Brown should save the money that would be spent on building
a 20th century throwback project and instead spend some of it on
making repairs to our current infrastructure. That would be the
visonary thing to do.

For more background, see the Reason Foundation’s recent
on the financial follies involved with California’s high
speed rail project.

from Hit & Run

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