By Tony Pauker
La JollaOn Aug. 25, Lynn Schenk wrote an opinion in support of high-speed rail in California. Unfortunately the promise of high-speed rail does not match the reality. This nice sounding concept will be a multibillion-dollar boondoggle that will not address California economic or transportation needs. High-speed rail fails on a number of critical fronts.
First, no mention is made that such a system will not be able to pay for itself. That is referred to as “fare box recovery.” The fact is that except for rare exceptions in extremely densely populated areas in parts of Europe or Japan, high-speed rail requires ongoing subsidies to support it. In California this will be a very significant annual cost the taxpayers must fund.
Second, the estimated $42 billion price tag is likely to be grossly inadequate. Land acquisition, lawsuits; community review, etc., are likely to push this considerably higher.
Third, high-speed rail will not alleviate traffic problems. The system is envisioned to first connect L.A .to San Francisco. That will not help San Diego. … Some decade later the plan is to connect San Diego to L.A. via Menifee. Yes, Menifee, north of Temecula. Or more accurately, San Diego to Menifee to Anaheim to LA. That certainly will not alleviate traffic on the I-5/805/405.
Finally, the estimated 100,000 construction jobs it will create are jobs funded by tax dollars that will not produce economically sustainable results for the state.
In short, we are looking to solve tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s solutions that have proven ineffective. If the goal of high-speed rail is to promote better transit between L.A., San Diego and San Francisco we should consider the far less costly option of buses in already existing high occupancy vehicle lanes (diamond lanes). If the idea is to promote less use of gasoline, let’s finally invest in research into alternate fuels like bio diesel from algae or electricity from wind and solar. That could really create new high paying sustainable jobs that would enhance our economy