Here’s a New Year’s resolution for Sacramento: Don’t waste taxpayer money on projects that are doomed to fail. We can start by scrapping California’s high-speed rail plan.
Despite the headlines when Gov. Jerry Brown and other officials finally broke ground Tuesday, no amount of political theater can hide the enormous flaws that plague this massive project and that will only burden California taxpayers for decades to come.
The current plan for high-speed rail is nearly twice as expensive as promised to California taxpayers. The projected travel times and fares have nearly doubled. The plan bears no resemblance to the one put before voters in 2008. One analysis after another has raised these red flags, but supporters in Sacramento refuse to admit that fundamental flaws exist and continue to press on, no matter the cost.
These objective reviews expose a business plan flawed at its core – unrealistic ridership numbers, a ballooning price tag (just last year, the California High-Speed Rail Authority increased its cost estimate for a Central Valley segment by $1 billion) and private investment that is still nowhere to be found.
And now Californians will pay at the pump under cap and trade as supporters try to salvage a grossly underfunded project. This is not what voters envisioned when Proposition 1A was presented to them. It is now clear that this project remains wholly unviable and is a monumental waste of precious transportation dollars that would be far better spent on roads, light rail and traditional heavy rail.
Supporters of high-speed rail claim that these concerns are unfounded and that those of us who raise them are “declinists” who lack vision. To the contrary, even strong advocates of rail transportation are raising red flags about this boondoggle. Even the former chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority, respected independent Quentin Kopp, has excoriated the project as it has morphed into something wholly unrecognizable from what the voters approved.
Moreover, this project is now so poorly planned that Congress decided that no more federal money will be spent on such a wasteful project. We will continue to work to ensure that no more federal taxpayer dollars are directed to this project. And organizations such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association will continue to fight to protect our precious taxpayer dollars.
With no federal money and no current private sector investment, this project is now California taxpayers’ worst nightmare as they are left holding the bag. While this week’s groundbreaking may serve as a political maneuver to gloss over the very real risks that could affect the quality of life of every Californian, we remain committed to fighting this boondoggle and protecting taxpayers.
Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican, is the House majority leader and represents the 23rd Congressional District. Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.