Treasurer worried about high-speed train funding

June 28, 2011

California’s top financial official is warning that the numbers are not penciling out for the proposed controversial 800-mile bullet train system. [California Watch]

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer says that the $45 billion rail system is brimming with “unanswered questions: about construction financing and operating revenues.

The state is slated to begin the planned sale of  $9.95 billion in bonds next year so that construction can begin—Lockyer wants the process delayed until key questions can be answered.

“I think the federal funding is too speculative,” Lockyer said of the project’s financial plan. “I think the likelihood of significant private capital is questionable.”

Lockyer went on to say, “I’ve been disappointed by the lack of a disciplined business plan that makes any sense, and I’m not sure the economics work out.”

The  treasurer’s criticism is consistent with similar critiques made by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state auditor and UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies

Lockyer also suggested the California High-Speed Rail Authority might have made a strategic mistake by opting not to begin construction in either the Bay Area or the Los Angeles basin.

Instead, the initial line will run between Corcoran, near Bakersfield, and Borden, near Fresno.


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10 Comments

  1. SLOChildrenAtPlay says:

    You think the cost of this project is high now, just wait until the environmentalists and their lawyers start getting involved! If the environmentalists will file lawsuits to stop a simple solar field in the Carizzo Plain, how can we expect to build a high-speed train across the middle of the State? It’s stupid to even think that Caifornia is capable of creating something this great anymore.

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
  2. whatisup says:

    I would agree with this project if the price tag wasn’t $56 million a mile ($45 billion/800 miles). This is an outrageous expense for a train that far less people will use each day than use Highway 46 each day (probably less than use Hwy 46 in an hour or two during the summer). A really ill conceived project.

    This does not even address whether ticket prices could be set high enough to pay the annual operating expenses without annual government subsides, i.e., the train doesn’t pay for its operating expenses..

    The idea that at this moment in time, with the unbelievable Federal, State, County and City budget deficits, anyone can even try to justify spending $56 million per mile to build this bullet train is astonishing. Yet, Congress and the President did the math and for them the math makes perfect sense, though any fifth grader would say they are stupid.

    (9) 13 Total Votes - 11 up - 2 down
  3. Typoqueen says:

    I feel that a high speed train is a great idea, it would provide many well needed jobs as well as provide a well needed service and it would be good for the environment. However, I do question the location of the start and ending points of the train system. I don’t know why it wouldn’t run from LA to SF or LA to SF to Sac.. It doesn’t make sense as it is and seems that it is set up to fail. But unlike my repub counter parts I do believe that the basic premise of having a high speed train system makes sense and is for once looking towards the future,,,like we used to do in the old days. But there are questions that need to be answered before we take on such a huge endeavor.

    (-10) 16 Total Votes - 3 up - 13 down
    • srichison says:

      Have you ever found a “fleece the taxpayer” project that you didn’t like because it provides “many well needed jobs?” This boondoggle provides neither a “well needed service” nor anything “good for the environment.” How many cars will be taken off the road between Corcoran and Borden that you believe will offset the diesel belch of hundreds (thousands?) of pieces of heavy equipment required to move earth and lay track?

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        There are govt.stimulus jobs that have helped us out. My business has personally been helped by stimulus money. A lot of Cal Trans workers that would other wise be laid off have been helped by such jobs, that’s the govt. giving back our tax money and I’m all for it. This could be a great project if the location was different.

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • r0y says:

          Great, welfare for the employed.

          (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
          • Typoqueen says:

            So Cal Trans employees are on welfare? They are working on jobs that need to be done but you’d rather them be unemployed receiving unemployment or true welfare, I get it. Perhaps we need to say scr*w those hard workers but lets make sure we bail out those wealthy bankers, that’s much better use of our tax dollars. Tax money is in part there to maintain our infrastructure and stimulate the economy and that’s exactly what stimulus money has/is doing.

            If there were a high speed train in practical locations I know I would use it and I’m sure many many others would as well. But there’s no point in driving to the valley then renting a car when I get to the end of the line because the train ends in the middle of nowhere.

            (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  4. Side_Show_Bob says:

    This high speed rail crap is a bunch of BS. 45 billion dollars? Who the hell is gonna use it? The idea is just plain idiotic.

    As for electric or hybrid? When they can build an affordable vehicle that is actually USEFUL, I’d consider one.

    (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
  5. willie says:

    I admire and respect Lockyer’s comments.

    You are witnessing the decline of the US Empire when it is within our power to avert it.
    * We are a mobile society, we need to jump start, bypass “planned obsolence” and start producing cars now that are scheduled for production 5 to 10 years in the future.

    There is an old saying: The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:7
    Elected officials only solution seems to be cuts, more tax and inflation whether short or long term leaving us all caught in debt to survive (less spending).
    These high class elected public officials don’t seem to have the common touch to get the focus correct.

    Neither the old or the young have time, our elected genius’s procrastination is the biggest thief to our lives (Time is everybody’s worst enemy)

    Those of you under the delusion that we can compete economically against Asia, India need to wake up, we cannot!.
    It won’t be long before Africa will be more advance than the US under our noses.
    It is ironic that 3rd would nation in time will become more advance and better educated than our own children.
    When you really think it out, the only thing you can truely leave your children is a good education but it is not only too expensive but the parents are too much in debt.

    *I asked a guy driving a PU truck filling up his gas tank at Costo ($80+) how often he refuels, he told me about 3X every 2 weeks doing normal work and family drivng in and ajacent to SLO.
    *That is about $480 a month less maintainence cost.
    *In comparison to him, I only spend $120 a month.
    *He said he was unable to afford an economic car like mine.
    *If he had a car like mine or better, he would have $360 to pay down his debt and spend more.

    *We need assisted jump starting to green vehicles without business planned obsolence, now!”
    *We need to get out of debt and free more spending, more taxation and inflation by government and private industry will only keep us in debt which cuts spending (life).

    When energy and mobility (Which seems to be the heart, artery and veins of our economy) is given a relief, all other recovery will follow.
    Last month AAA magazine had an article which showed that “IF” you live in Riverside County, you can buy the Chevy Volt hybrd with a $5K Federal rebat, $5K State rebate while funds last, and a 2K County rebate, and if you have a relative that works for Chevy there is an additional 5K rebate for the Sony’s Enteratainment package, the total cost is about half price.
    Honda is coming out with a hybrd which goes 100 miles on electric (using a battery the size of a laptop and guaranteed for several years) then kicks into gasoline mode.
    Some engining firms have a Humvee that can run 100 mile per gallon of hydrogen (think motorhome as well)
    Governement and private industy need to think and jump start at lease 5 years ahead “without further delay” or we will all be old or dead before we are rich.

    Sorry to be long winded.

    (-2) 16 Total Votes - 7 up - 9 down
    • r0y says:

      One very important point that is often over-looked when discussing competitiveness with China or India is the Quality of Life issue. True, we cannot compete with our current standards of living; however, the workers in those cheap labor markets will, in time, want better lives. One generation’s toiling ultimately will need to bestow grandeur on the next generation. And so on, and so on.

      Everyone sees China as this economic powerhouse. Sure, they are now, but they’re constantly teetering on the brink of total collapse and rebellion from within. Why do you think they continue building even when there is no one to buy? Because, like a good juggernaut, they’ve gained too much speed too fast. Any bump in the road is potential disaster.

      Sooner or later, a bowl of rice a day just isn’t going to cut it for many people.

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down

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