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Friday, February 11, 2011

More Obama Nutiness

In the State of the Union and in his budget, the President says he wants to spend $53 Billion on constructing a high speed rail system in the U.S., and he wants it to extend to 17,000 miles.

That is incredibly stupid crap!

Understand that we have traveled on high speed trains in Spain and France, and they are very nice. The scenery goes by in a blur!

But in Spain and France (and in Japan) where there are a lot high speed trains, cities with high density populations are close together. China, where there will be the world's most extensive high speed rail network has a completely different problem.

The only place in the U.S. that approaches that kind of proximity and density is the Boston to Washington corridor. The problem there is that there is no room to build a high speed line.

So guess what, the government now proposes to build a high speed line in California, theoretically from San Diego to San Francisco. But they don't have nearly enough money to build such a project. Obama talks about joint government/private business ventures. The problem is that private businesses know this is a really bad idea and not one single private dollar has been raised to build the California project.

However, government agencies in California have about $6 Billion of your money in their pockets and they are determined to spend it. So they are going to build one leg of the route from Maderia (population 43,000) to Concoran (population 14,500), as, I guess, a demonstration project with hopes for money to complete the route later.

And this is where we demonstrate once again that Cost/Benefit Analysis is all crap. First the costs. The government estimates that the whole project will cost $42 Billion. All private estimates put the cost in the $65 to $81 Billion range judging by other similar projects.

And then the benefits. The government high speed rail authority says 95 million passengers will ride the California train. The entire Amtrak system nationwide only carries about 27 million passengers. The government projections would require 10,000 passengers every hour of every day. And they figure that every one of those passengers will pay $110 for their tickets. That is more than it costs to fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

You see the beauty of Cost/Benefit Analysis? You just make up the numbers and you can justify anything.

And if I haven't scared you enough now, just remember that the whole system would be run by AMTRAK!!! In addition to generally awful service, Amtrak currently requires a subsidy of $35 per passenger while running paid for equipment and on paid for tracks. You will be on the Amtrak hook forever and ever.

And all the while Obama babbles about high speed rail systems, our magnificent Interstate Highway System (which people actually use) is falling apart and 10,000 bridges are judged dangerous, but he can't get interested in any of this reality.

Anybody say "one term"?

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