California's high speed rail hits a speed bump

The head of California's multi-billion dollar high speed rail project has resigned, and the question remains: can the state really finance such a big project?

By , Guest blogger

  • close
    China's CRH high-speed trains sit on tracks at a maintenance base in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province, Wednesday Jan. 11, 2012. California's own high-speed rail project has hit a few snags, including a lack of financing and the recent resignation of California High Speed Rail authority CEO Roelof van Ark .
    View Caption

The head of California's High Speed Rail project has resigned.  You would think that a multi-billion dollar, 30 year project would offer some intellectual challenges for its leader but "Roelof van Ark, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, announced this afternoon that he is quitting, the latest setback for the state's beleaguered campaign to build a nearly $100 billion rail network in California."

What is going on?  We know that California and the Federal Government both have large fiscal deficits and this may be part of the issue but what happened to the momentum?  

As a guy who flies to Northern California often, and who has traveled on a Chinese Bullet train,  I haven't supported this train.  I figure that for political reasons that it will stop too often between San Fran, LA and San Diego and thus never achieve the MPH that it has promised.   I assume that its ridership will be too low to cover the enormous fixed cost of constructing it.  Once people arrive in these cities, and get off the train --- they will still need a car to connect them with their ultimate destination --- so, the real issue here is what is wrong with air travel?  I know that HSR has a smaller carbon footprint than air travel but what would have to be the value per ton of GHG emissions for HSR to be a wise investment?  I would guess that it would have to be close to the $200 per ton that was calculated for the Cash for Clunkers program.

Recommended: An 'ARE YOU SMARTER THAN AL GORE?' energy quiz

In the absence of Federal subsidies, how will California finance this train?   $100 billion dollars in a state with 35 million people works out to $3,000 for each man, woman and child.   Are we willing to pay that average cost? 

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on greeneconomics.blogspot.com.

Share this story:
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...