The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent
California's Bullet Train

California's Bullet Train

December 22, 2020

Table of Contents

  • All over the world, high-speed rail is booming, zipping passengers in China, Japan, France, and Italy from city to city.

Ben Boychuk in The Sacramento Bee said, "The dream of a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco" seems dead. Last week, newly elected Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom washed his hands of the "boondoggle," saying attempts to move people in 2 hours and 40 minutes "would cost too much and take too long" between the Bay Area and Southern California.

In 2008, Californians "voted for fantasy," aiming to finish the job at a cost of $33 billion by 2022. Despite half-baked proposals and legal roadblocks, construction sped ahead as the estimated cost ballooned to around $77 billion. By continuing to construct a 119-mile stretch of track through the sparsely popular Central Valley of the state, which opponents quickly dubbed a "train to nowhere," Newsom is attempting to "save face." Incompetent planning and implementation were to blame, Henry Grabar told Slate.com.

All over the world, high-speed rail is booming, zipping passengers in China, Japan, France, and Italy from city to city.

French and Chinese engineers offered to build the bullet train in California, but their experience was arrogantly turned away by state planners. "What a wreck of a train." Who'd have guessed? In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal asked. "The promise of President Trump to make Mexico pay for a border wall was more credible than California's claim that this pipe dream would be paid for by private investors and federal subsidies." Taxpayers have lost faith," Philip Klein said these days in Washington Examiner.com, "California is where liberal hopes go to die," after endless legal fights, engineering snafus, and political squabbles over which cities get stations." The state provides the ideal testing ground for sweeping progressive concepts with its large tax base and Democratic supermajorities in the legislature.

In 2017, California's proposals for a single-payer health care system proved impractical, and the botched bullet train presents yet another "cautionary tale." If there is no realistic big-ticket liberalism, then it is futile at the national level. That's why California's loss, Michael Grunwald said in Politico, is a "gift" to Republicans. Newsom's announcement came just days after Democrats announced the Green New Deal in Congress, including a national high-speed rail network.

Now, the next time liberals suggest a major investment scheme, they will be reminded by con-servant opponents of what the governor or "America's greenest state" said when killing the bullet train: "Let's get real."

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