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Opinion: $202 million, continuing the boondoggle

According to the California High-Speed-Rail Authority’s website, when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House of Representatives, she said that California’s “bullet train” was the “biggest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s creation.” If it is ever built, it will cover 442 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. However, in the same speech, Pelosi pointed out, “China already has 22,000 miles of high-speed rail, which will double by 2035.” She also stated, “Japan has had high-speed rail for nearly 60 years.”

So, HSR is not new or innovative. It is not experimental. Compared to similar, but better, HSR systems in nearly two dozen other countries, it is like the Lionel train set that we’ll see under many U.S. Christmas trees in a couple of months. And, whereas China will double its expanse of high-speed rail to 44,000 miles in 2035, California will still be working on that 442-mile trek from S.F. to L.A.

And as for being the mode of transportation for the future, well…. HSR goes back further than some of our “baby boomers,” that huge cohort of births between 1946 (who turned 77 this year) and 1964 (who turned 59 this year). California’s version was approved by voters in 2009 (14 years ago) with a bond appropriation of $9.9 billion. Of course, nearly a decade and a half ago, a billion dollars still seemed like a lot of money. My total at the supermarket checkout counter was still in the two-digit range. Times change.


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