California high-speed bullet train may have gotten shot

California High Speed Rail boondoggle

Funding for the zombie California bullet train is now questionable at best, this after California spent $2.3 billion of mostly federal money on a 119 mile train track to nowhere in the Central Valley.

Money from greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auctions was supposed to provide major funding, but that income is now minimal. Plus, the Trump Administration has blocked desperately needed funds, probably because Republicans (and others) in the Central Valley don’t want trains whizzing past at 200 mph every few minutes. You probably wouldn’t either.

Also, by law, the train must be high-speed the entire way and to my knowledge, no one has figured out how to do this in the San Jose corridor. The train can’t stop and wait at street crossings because then they wouldn’t be high-speed. So, the only alternative is to have it raised and / or underground in a heavily populated urban area. This would require huge amounts of money, major disruption due to construction, and almost certain barrages of lawsuits from well-off techies who don’t want such a train anywhere near them. Did I mention the high-speed train requires its own tracks? Existing tracks cannot be used.

I favor affordable mass transit that lots of people will use. However it needs to mostly pay for itself. California high speed rail from Los Angeles to San Francisco would be insanely expensive to build, tickets would not be less expensive than flying, and it might not have many passengers at all. Plus, building it through urban areas would be a logistical and  environmental, um, train wreck. Seriously.

Maybe this time the zombie really is dead.

Results of the state’s latest cap-and-trade auction of greenhouse gas emission allowances – the only source of ongoing bullet train funds – were released and once again it produced almost no money.

Moreover, the report was aired just days after the Trump administration had put an indefinite hold on a $647 million grant for electrifying the Caltrain commuter rail service on the San Francisco Peninsula, a major component of the “blended” bullet train system.

Republican congressmen opposed to the bullet train had attacked the grant, knowing that without it, the $2 billon electrification project could die, and along with it, the larger system.