Obama's Proposed Train to Nowhere

By Proof

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Notice any similarity between the train's logo and that of anyone in particular running for re-election in 2012?

Remember Obama's State of the Union address? There was one portion so blindingly, mind numbingly stupid that I've been hesitant up to now, to try to point out just how truly awful it is.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down. (Laughter and applause.) As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Aside from the utter dishonesty of implying that the TSA has no design on increasing security at every train station throughout the US, how good a prescription for an ailing economy is high speed rail?

It was recently announced that the cost of the initial section of California's proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion. Wait! Do I have that right? Sorry! The initial section of California's proposed high-speed rail line will cost $2.9 billion to $6.8 billion more than originally projected. And that cost was estimated at $7.1 billion in 2009.

Disturbing too, was the talk here in California, earlier this year, that we must act quickly to start construction or lose federal funding. Even though back in February, Florida Governor Rick Scott returned $2.4 billion in federal funds for building a similar high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando. Neither town at the termination of California's initial high speed rail would have either the population of Tampa or Orlando.

Damn the torpedoes! High speed ahead! And those are the cost overruns for just the first 190 miles of a proposed 800 mile system (and that, only in California, if Obama were to get his way!). So, first, imagine a $14 billion dollar system, before the first real cost "overrun" is realized, that would connect two towns out in the middle of the boonies, without sufficient ridership to ever even pay the maintenance costs, much less ever realize even a break even on the investment. Now quadruple that figure for the full 800 miles, better throw in a fudge factor, because you know the price isn't getting any cheaper, and you've got a $64 billion dollar plus rail system that will require both state and federal subsidies to stay afloat, probably forever.

And, back to the President's lame joke about the "pat down". Forget merely screening the passengers before they board, although, this too would happen. Imagine having to prevent a terrorist attack on the entire 800 miles of track.

At an airport, the goal is to keep anyone from bringing anything dangerous onto the plane. With high speed rail, you have to do all that, plus prevent anyone from sabotaging 800 miles of track or pushing something as easy to find (or steal) as an old pickup truck into the path of a train moving too fast to stop, destroying it with its own energy and the laws of physics.

A high speed train full of people, should the government subsidize the ticket sales enough to promote ridership, would be a tempting target for a terrorist. No amount of TSA agents in the stations can safeguard the entire rail line. At least when you fly, it's a lot harder for them to catch you or drop a big rock on your path!

And there's something for the Green Weenies to dislike as well. The Environmental Impact Report for this rail line that would transect the state, north to south, considered the environmental impact...100 ft. on either side of the tracks. Oh, yeah! We hardly impact the environment at all (within a 100 feet of the rails)! God help any migratory critter that tries to go from one half of the state to the other!

The implications for farm land are even murkier. For every acre of farmland that the rail line transects, you lose not only that 200 foot plus swath, but you lose more, in that every new fence line means additional acreage lost to crops where it is inefficient to plant, plus access roads, and then add to that, the added costs and inefficiencies of transporting tractors, harvesters and farm workers to the other side of a once contiguous field, and to one degree or another, you raise the cost of agriculture.

So, with so many things going against high speed rail, spending billions upon billions with little to no hope of return, when both the state and the country are deeply in debt, with no guarantee of ridership or even that the system will be completed outside the towns of Hooterville and Petticoat Junction, why would anyone even dream of pursuing this?

One, you have the statist dream of getting everyone out of their cars into mass transit. Those who would adopt the European model of "making the trains run on time", generally overlook the size and grandeur of this great nation. Google two cities of any European country and see how long those rail lines are compared to just California. Rail makes more sense in smaller countries.
Emulating the Europeans in this point would only be to emulate the worst of them in accumulating debt.

Two, politicians like to spend money. The more of it that can toss around, the longer they can maintain themselves in power. There would be some favored contractors, who, undoubtedly will contribute heavily to certain political "leaders", but you can't grow the economy on government funds, since the government merely "spreads the wealth" through taxes, taking it out of other areas in the economy that might actually generate new wealth and a "larger pie".

Someone should drive a stake through the heart of this high speed rail proposal. Just drawing up the plans for this has already cost the taxpayer in the neighborhood of $58 million dollars, before a single spike is driven.

The Obama administration announced this week it's giving California $179 million

Can you say "A drop in the bucket"? High speed rail is a rathole we're throwing money down. We not only need to stop, but we need to replace more than a few of the rats who think this is a good idea.

Cross posted at Proof Positive

1 comment:

  1. Oh, during the debt ceiling debates, Obama said that the train money was off the table. For a minute, I almost couldn't believe the GOP didn't make that into a talking point, then I remembered who they actually were.


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