More Editorial Page Folly

Jan 4th, 2010 | Posted by

Apparently 2010 isn’t going to spare us the flawed and short-sighted editorials attacking HSR. This weekend brought yet another one, this time from the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The irony of newspapers, which have seen their business model collapse, their circulation numbers and revenues fall off a cliff, and are in many cases mere shells of their former selves, calling out HSR for being a bad deal is rather deeply hypocritical. But apparently they have the luxury of suggesting California doesn’t really need jobs.

Faster rail travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco hardly ranks in the top of any sensible list of state priorities. Nor do the latest projections surrounding a bullet train project evoke confidence that the scheme will work as promised. And cash-strapped California has better uses for its public money.

This is a typical way of attacking HSR: claim it doesn’t really matter, and say we have other priorities for our money. The P-E doesn’t seem to realize that the summer of 2008 oil price spike ever happened – or that oil prices are rising right now. Apparently economic recovery, energy independence, and global warming aren’t really priorities either. One wonders what the P-E thinks ARE genuine priorities.

The state should defer selling the nearly $10 billion in high-speed rail bond funds voters approved in 2008, as California already faces a dangerously growing debt burden. And state officials should refuse to put any more of taxpayers’ money toward an enormously expensive project of dubious utility.

This is the new line of attack on HSR – that the state’s debt burden is too high so we shouldn’t sell the Prop 1A bonds. This is a pretty stupid move, since HSR generates new economic value – new jobs, new tax revenues – that help pay off the bonds AND ease the state’s financial burden over time. The only reason to not spend the HSR bonds is if you think the current recession is a good thing and ought to be as prolonged as possible.

It’s entirely possible to have both HSR and schools. Well before Prop 1A passed, California suffered from a 30-year long structural revenue shortfall. We had set our tax rates artificially low out of a belief that it was the only way to generate economic growth (which was obviously wrong). Even if we don’t spend the HSR bonds, we need to raise taxes to protect the services that generate new jobs and economic opportunity. So the HSR bonds aren’t the problem, but they ARE part of the solution. Besides, if the editorialists really wanted to target bonds that don’t create lasting value or address deeper problems, they might look at the billions in highway bonds approved in the Prop 1B bond in 2006, or the $11 billion in bonds to subsidize water waste that’ll be on the November 2010 ballot.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s latest business plan, released last month, offers new reasons for concern. The price tag of the Los Angeles to San Francisco line jumped to $42.6 billion, a significant increase over the $33.6 billion cost the agency offered in 2008. Proposed ticket prices also spiked, from $55 to $105.

And yet the P-E omits key information: the price tag increased only because of federally-mandated shift to “year of expenditure” accounting; the cost in 2008 dollars only went up by $1 billion to account for a tunnel in Anaheim. The P-E also did not mention that even under the higher prices, it’s still likely to be cheaper than airfare from SF to LA in 2020, and that the system is projected to cover its own costs anyway.

Still, the P-E continues its misleading attack:

The rail authority touts the new numbers as more accurate, but even those figures seem to contain a large share of wishful thinking. Amtrak’s entire national network, with thousands of miles of track and more than 500 destinations, only carried 27 million passengers in 2009. Yet the rail authority thinks the state bullet train would carry 13.5 million riders a year when it started service a decade from now.

As we discussed in yesterday’s post, the comparison between long-distance Amtrak and HSR is flawed. The P-E doesn’t mention train distances, speeds, and frequency of service. If they had, they’d see that the Acela generates operating surpluses and in Southern California, the Pacific Surfliners, hampered by slower speeds and sharing with freight and Metrolink (which has priority over the Surfliners), still generate very high ridership. The proper comparison is not between California HSR and Amtrak, but between California HSR and other global HSR systems. Apparently the P-E has no clue that these other systems exist – if they had they’d see that they all have no trouble generating high ridership or revenue.

The agency’s financing plan calls for $17 billion to $19 billion in federal funding — though the plan also notes that such funding does not yet exist. And just where a federal government with a burgeoning deficit and massive long-range unfunded promises would find that money is far from clear.

Between $3 and $4 billion of that will come this month. So there’s still around $15.5 billion left to find. Congress has approved $2.5 billion a year in HSR funding, which is a start – it won’t meet our needs, but shows that Congress is serious about HSR. The Transportation Bill this year is where the real HSR money will come from – but instead the P-E prefers to peddle discredited deficit concerns, even though most economic observers agree that if we emphasize cutting the deficit over spending to grow the economy, the economy will slide deeper into recession.

The finances also call for $10 billion to $12 billion in private funding. But the plan admits that private investment is unlikely without a strong infusion of public funding. And private investors will want the public to shoulder most of the risk — which suggests that if costs climb even higher or funding falls through, state taxpayers would be tapped for the balance.

The issue of who bears the risk IS an important one. Which is why the public funding share ought to be much greater. But then the P-E opposes that too, so as with most other anti-HSR editorials, they’re throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

But California cannot even afford the $9.95 billion bond measure from 2008, much less any extra costs. Repaying the state’s prodigious borrowing will soon consume 10 percent of the state’s general fund, and yearly debt payments could hit $10 billion — more than the state will spend on prisons or higher education this year. The state also faces years of annual budget deficits in the $20 billion range.

And yet the costs of doing nothing aren’t zero. If we don’t spend $10 billion on HSR bonds, we may spend $80 to $160 billion on expanding freeways and airplanes – which in turn will force us to spend more money addressing the effects of all that carbon emitting. But then when you believe the status quo works just fine and can be extended indefinitely, as the P-E does, I guess you don’t have to worry about those costs.

And repaying the rail bond would cost the state nearly $20 billion over the next three decades, for a project whose purported benefits would only hit far in the future. Yet California cannot even handle its existing transportation network. The state has a $40 billion gap through 2018 in funding required to operate and maintain state highways.

The “purported benefits” include immediate job creation, which California desperately needs, more than anything else. We are not in a position to turn down all the new jobs HSR would create, not with a 12% unemployment rate. Ironically, that “gap” in funding is a function of the fact that state highways do not pay for themselves, never have, and have never been expected to do so. California either has to put up toll booths on every public road, or raise taxes to fund the maintenance.

Advocates claim that high-speed rail offers the right approach for the future. Perhaps. But in the present, California has limited funds and huge demands for public investment — and far more crucial needs than faster trains.

Perhaps this argument might have made sense in 1985. But not now. Anyone who thinks California doesn’t need HSR and its jobs right here, right now is not paying attention to this state’s dire economic crisis. And as a struggling newspaper, the P-E should know this more than most others.

  1. HSRforCali
    Jan 4th, 2010 at 22:57

    Does anyone else think that the first phase could be built for a whole lot less than $42 billion? I mean that’s $90/mile. To me, it seems if the Authority would stop wasting money on uneccesary things, (tunnel under Anaheim, countless aerial structures, etc.) the first phase could be built in the range of $34-35 billion. (accounting for inflation) They’re obviously wasting money somewhere if they’re saying the first phase will cost $42 billion, even if it is the inflated cost.

  2. jimsf
    Jan 4th, 2010 at 23:57

    First, we must remember that so called “journalists” of today, especially the two bit hometown papers, are not journalists at all. At least they are not in the old school, investigative, “I have integrity and critical thinking skills” incarnation with which some of us grew up. Today’s papers are staffed by fluffy hacks, or hacky fluffs, or similar. They do a combination of wire story regurgitation and ideological opinion writing and then pass it off as news to a politically polarized internet generation who also does not know basic sentence structure, let alone have critical thinking skills.

    (I’m really anti news these days because I grew up with Cronkite and I don’t see anything anywhere like that anymore. We trusted that guy. He was with us. He didn’t bs us.)

    In addition, when something is characterized by the writer as a “boondoggle” or “scheme” directly, we know it’s a hit piece. If the writer were being objective he would have to report that “some consider it to be a boondoggle.”

    None is worse than my hometown paper the Chronicle which has just turned to trash in the last 10 years (see, that’s opinion, not objective reporting).

    The unfortunate by product of the information age and the internet is that it has brought us, as predicted, a kind of uber democracy. The wheels of democracy turn slowly. Toss in some polarization, hysteria, and access for all and we’ll still be here arguing the minutia 20 years from now.

    I think the “American experiment” is really just an exercise in patience and compromise. It helps to take a lot of deep breaths.

    Dan S. Reply:

    So sad and so true. Worst part is that (in general) the American populace doesn’t realize that it takes good news to run a good democracy. They are happy enough in their (very big) American bubble. Also IMH –>O<– !

  3. synonymouse
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 00:34

    Boondoggle is an appropriate term to apply to the Palmdale caper.

    The SF Chronicle has always been dreck – it is just smaller now. The Chron is down on the hsr – and they are about as liberal as big city papers come.

    The Mercury News ran an op-ed condemning Diridon’s elevated in downtown San Jose.

    Time to draw up a fallback scheme and make nice with Richard Tolmach? I won’t hold my breath.

    jimsf Reply:

    The chron not liberal and they are anti union as well and HSR has nothing to do with being liberal. What does hsr have to do with being liberal? Its a tool for growth and development of the state economy and a necessary piece of infrastructure for making sure that cali business can compete in on the global stage.

    Its not for a bunch pot smoking hippies who can’t find the station.

    Tony D. Reply:

    That Saturday, 1/2/10 Op-Ed in the SJ Mercury News was the opinion of two individuals; the former head of the SJ Downtown Association and a community activist. It wasn’t an actual opinion of the newspaper itself. Today the Merc printed my rebuttal opinion; check it out! (SJ Mercury News Opinion page for 1/5/10).

    Dan S. Reply:

    Nice letter Tony! Thanks!

  4. matt
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 01:29

    Robert, while agree with you in principal that CA HSR makes sense, I have grown tired of your blog. You constantly bitch and moan about poor reporting, but then you do the same thing here. You argue that most economists say that the economy will worsen without more stimulus and then use that as an argument for more stimulus. But the economists are not all saying that is what we need, only the Keynesian economists. We can not run an economy based on the government creating money out of thin air and giving it to the people who have connections (see TARP). Every dollar the government creates deflates the money we use. (the money we are forced by law to use).

    The current collapse was not caused by the free market. This recession was caused by a housing bubble created by artificially high demand for houses which was cause by people being forced to put their money into house because it is a good investment compared to letting their dollars be inflated away.

    On to HSR. It makes sense because it is more efficient than highways. If Highways were even just required to pay for their own maintenance, than HSR would be build already, by private investors. Again the free market would solve this problem. People think transport should be subsidized, but look at all the problems created by that: sprawl, congestion, pollution. If people payed for the real cost of their trips than everything would be so much more dense.

    People love to talk crap on Ron Paul, but read this and tell me how it does not make sense:,tx14_paul,blog,999,All,Item%20not%20found,ID=100104_3625,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml

    Spokker Reply:

    Libertarianism is a lofty ideal but I think it’s just as feasible as socialism. The only government we’ll ever be able to maintain is one that lies between those two extremes.

    So no, I won’t be voting for Ron Paul.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Matt: monetarist economists who make their living selling prognoses to the private sector believe that more stimulus is necessary, as well. The only serious economists nowadays who oppose a fiscal stimulus are a small number of Chicago-educated conservative shills, whose income comes from staying true to ideology rather than from getting predictions right.

    And no, initial HSR lines are usually built by the government even in countries where highways are made to pay for maintenance and externalities. The exceptions, Taiwan HSR and the Channel Tunnel, are precisely the cases that have failed the most.

    dejv Reply:

    The biggest revenuer-related problem of Channel Tunnel is that Britain has smaller (both narrower and shorter) loading gauge and different wheel profile. This makes sending GB cars to mainland inefficient and mainland cars to GB impossible. Ironically, there was a line ready for continental rolling stock but it was closed some thirty years before opening of chunnel.

    Joey Reply:

    I thought this was fixed with the completion of High Speed 1.

    dejv Reply:

    HS1 fixes passenger rail. For general freight, HS1 is only a second step, after the Chunnel itself. Now there’s need to convert mainlines around in Greater London to continental gauge, than spurs to the enterprises, than mainlines further north and west and so on… GB has still a long way to go to fully utilize Chunnel potential in non-shuttle freight potential.

    matt Reply:

    Is there any place where highways must pay for both capital and maint. costs?

    As for Taiwan HSR the recession hit it during the most crucial time, and the Channel Tunnel is not your standard HSR project.

    Either HSR makes more total financial sense than expanding highways or there is no reason for them other than the environmental reasons.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think EU gas taxes cover both maintenance and capital costs and pollution externalities (but not sprawl, congestion, or security externalities). The difference between gas tax revenue and road spending in Britain, for example, is about $3 per US gallon, which is close to what Greg Mankiw claims gas needs to be taxed at to cover both pollution and emissions. I’ve read a study that claims that the full externalities of driving, at least in the US, would have to be balanced by a $4.70-$14.50/gallon tax as of 1999; but said study was published by an environmentalist group and was not peer-reviewed, so caveat emptor.

    The reason HSR can both make financial sense and be government-funded is that the private sector is risk-averse, especially about large capital construction projects. The TGV and Shinkansen both cost billions back when it was considered a lot of money. The first TGV line was funded by floating bonds on Wall Street, which split the cost among many investors, but was still built by a government-owned railroad; the Shinkansen was both funded and overseen by government agencies.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The TGV bonds were guaranteed by the state, which gave the SNCF an AAA rating and thus cheap rates. As ridership exceeded expectations, the bonds were paid off ahead of time. Yet, in case of failure the taxpayer would have had to foot the bill.
    The Channel tunnel is the opposite example, thanks to Margaret Thatcher’s sabotaging work. She thought railways were a remnant of the past and any money spent on them was wasted. She was convinced a road tunnel might work but a railway tunnel was doomed to fail. She opposed any state or EU involvement of any kind. So, the tunnel appeared as a high-risk enterprise and the banks fixed their conditions accordingly.
    The banks’ behavior was later considered scandalous by the French but just buinesslike by the English. Many Eurotunnel shares were bought in France by modest people, including tunnel workers who accepted to have their bonuses paid in shares. As soon as the tunnel started operating rumours started about its having no future. The shares fell to 1/40 of their original value but the banks charitably offered small shareholders to buy them before they were worth nothing. When this operation was completed, miracle! Eurotunnel shares began to regain value.
    The funding of Eurotunnel was one of the most opaque ever devised, with 350 banks involved.
    That’s what happens when states abandon their power of decision to the bankers.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The best French highways are privately financed and run. The state just offers its guarantee for 50% of the loans, which is no big risk as they all make a profit. In return, they are not entirely free to fix their toll rates.
    The operators are branches of French building companies like Vinci or Bouygues (world’s biggest), but the business has also attracted Spain’s ACS (world’s N°3). So, although the companies that build the highways are legally distinct from the ones that operate them, you can consider it is a “build and operate” arrangement.
    The contracts are for 35 years, after which the state becomes the owner.
    The tolls are rather high and make the TGV a far better bargain than driving alone. The upside is that private highways are very efficiently maintained as their operators want to avoid customers deserting to the free roads that run parallel to them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    From one point of view the toll roads here in the US do, most of them anyway. They get subsidized in many ways that aren’t directly related to the operation of the road itself. Quasi-government owned and run they get government rates on borrowed money. They don’t pay property taxes or income taxes. In a few instances the state or local government will force them to help with the improvements needed to the exits. So according to the toll road’s books they pay for themselves.

    antimony biscuit Reply:

    Printing money creates inflation, not deflation. And printing money is something the fed res has been doing for a very long time, why do you think 1 dollar won’t buy you its weight in silver any more? At the broader level libertarianism will always devolve into anarchy.

    matt Reply:

    yes sorry for the confusion, I mean devalued. Why is it that this is acceptable, especially when the Fed does not give account of where the created money goes.

    Libertarianism holds anarchy as an Ideal while acknowledging that it is unrealistic.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The created money is loaned to banks, which loan it to people.

    The problem is that in a depression, printing money doesn’t create inflation – people hoard the money. This is a bad thing, since deflation is destructive in a depression, and one of the ways to stimulate investment is to commit to a higher than normal rate of inflation over the next few years; Krugman proposes 3-4%.

  5. Rafael
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 05:08

    “If we don’t spend $10 billion on HSR bonds, we may spend $80 to $160 billion on expanding freeways and airplanes”

    This is misleading, since the $9.95 billion refer only to the share of the HSR project that voters have committed the state of California to. Much of the balance is expected to come from Congress. A similar funding split would apply if California were to pursue the modal alternative instead, which it does not intend to because HSR is expected to deliver more bang for each buck.

    I’ve seen the $80 billion estimate before in CHSRA’s program-level EIS/EIR documentation, which dates back to 2007 or so. However, it referred to the total cost and did not reflect year-of-expenditure accounting. The $160 billion number I have not seen before. We should not put any cost estimate numbers into print without quoting their source and indicating the accounting/inflation context.

    TomW Reply:

    I think readers should be able to tag sentences in blogs and newspaper reports with [citation needed] if no source is given.

  6. TomW
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 06:25
  7. jim
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 09:15

    I’ve said before that I think you’re being a bit too optimistic in saying “[b]etween $3 and $4 billion of [federal HSR money] will come this month.” I think between $2B and $3B is more likely, and it could, even, be less. But you’re right that the real federal funding for CHSRA is going to come from the STAA. I would feel a lot more comfortable about CHSRA funding if I saw prominent California politicians pushing to get STAA out of committee.

  8. Missiondweller
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 09:25

    As I’ve previously stated, as we continue to move forward we need to remind people why HSR makes sense and any discussions of costs should be compared with the increasing costs of future expansions of freeways and runways.

    While the state continues to massively mismanage its finances its important to point out that HSR is not more social spending or union give aways. Instead, it is a huge investment in the infrastructure that will keep California competitive internationally and provide the model for HSR in the US.

    The article references seems to be of the mind that all spending is bad rather than separating productive investment from wasteful spending that often predominates Sacramento.

    jimsf Reply:

    If we’re speaking of giveaways, perhaps we should start with the real culprits. I wish I could choose my own tax

    What is needed is a side by side comparison of the costs of freeway lanes, airport expansion and hsr and the future capacity per dollar breakdown of each.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s what they did, years ago, and found that the cheapest way to to move all the people who will be wanting to move around in 2030 and beyond was to build HSR.

    When they are guesstimating highway capacity a free flowing lane can carry 2,000 automobiles per hour. It goes up slightly if the highway is very crowded then begins to go down An extreme case of that would be a highway that is gridlocked, it has no cars per hour moving on it even though it’s bumper to bumper.

    So four trains an hour between LA and SF is at least as much as one highway lane, probably more. 12 trains an hour between Fresno and Bakersfield is at least three and probably 4 lanes of highway in each direction. So very very very roughly HSR=I-5.

    It would be hard to get “one track of HSR costs as much as X number of freeway lanes” because they can cost different amounts. HSR and Caltrain upgrades are going to be very very expensive. Not as expensive as figuring out where to put the new airport and two lanes – in each direction – of new highway on both sides of the Bay.

    jimsf Reply:

    Not to mention the three bay area airports can’t really expand. Oakland and SFO would have to go into the bay and that will never happen. Just never. and san jose has constraints based on noise and downtown heights.

    No matter how you slice, there is no alternative that can offer the capacity, versatility and expandability for the price that hsr can offer. The other modes can’t even come close. Take into account the facts:

    hsr can offer competitive express service
    hsr can offer unmatchable local servce
    hsr will connect every significant downtown in california to every other significant downtown in california.
    the opportunity to expand hsr north to redding and east to vegas will allow every corner of the state ot be connected with every other corner in way that no highway or air service will ever be able to match.

    Flying can not and will never match the convenience and driving can not and will never match the speed.

    If you look at it when you combine existing services, plus phase one, and phase two of hsr, you get excellent coverage already, add a few easy pieces of a phase three, ( high desert/lowdesert/north valley) with existing service and and you have a complete network that reaches every corner of the state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure he is including all the commuter traffic on the NEC. From today’s post, “Why America Needs Trains”, by Vice President Joe Biden on

    “Consider that if you shut down Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, it is estimated that to compensate for the loss, you’d have to add seven new lanes of highway to Interstate 95. When you consider that it costs an average of $30 million for one linear mile of one lane of highway, you see what a sound investment rail travel is.”

    My source at the NYDOT says that 30 million a mile is a low even for rural areas. Adding lanes across all the rivers would be a bit pricier. At 30 million a lane mile – average – one lane in each direction between Boston and New York or Los Angeles and San Francisco would be 24 billion.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you have a link to the NYDOT source? I read otherwise, that 30 million is the cost of a route-mile of a six-lane highway, not a lane-mile. If 30 million were really the cost of a lane-mile, urban freeways could cost almost as much as subways and the federal government would have defaulted on all of its freeway matching funds.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    The 405 northbound carpool lane project is one 10-mile unidirectional lane and involves rebuilding structures and widening the portions through a mountain (hill) pass and through medium/low density sub/urban area. The estimated cost is $1b, or $100m/mile.

    Given the geography, that’s probably the high end of what freeways cost in a suburban light-urban environment. Dragging a freeway through Manhattan, of course, would be astronomical.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    I should clarify why I think this is relevant: The majority of the cost of the 405 widening is due to those external structures such as onramps and overpasses that need to be rebuilt. I think that’s a valid question when talking about freeway expansion and not just roadway construction. The expensive grade separations and onramps have to be (re)constructed no matter how many lanes you have. So my point was that the cost of incremental freeway expansion could be higher per lane-mile added than the cost of new freeway construction, per lane mile.

    The exception would be on freeways like the 5 and the 15, where long sections were built with large center medians reserved for future expansion. Those portions of the freeway would not be as expensive to expand as the other sections, but they also don’t typically extend past the suburban limits.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    My sources at the NYDOT are people not a document. We’ve tried linking to one them but none of the ports are the right size for an ethernet cable.

    They are expanding I-15 around Salt Lake City. Construction contracts were just awarded, round numbers are 17 million per lane mile for construction. That doesn’t include the process up to the point where they select an alternative. Or the engineering specifications so they can out the construction contracts out to bid. Or land acquisition costs.

    Rummaging around a bit more it’s 26-27 million a mile in suburban Salt Lake City.

  9. jimsf
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 11:13

    “Corporate tax attorneys are chuckling over the absurd deal in the last agreement that lets multistate and multinational taxpayers decide, each year, how much income they want to report to California. Because this was negotiated in private, with no hearings and no independent expertise brought to bear, the result is a giveaway and a national embarrassment, in a state that had prided itself on a fair, successful corporation tax.”

    nice huh.

  10. Truth be Told
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 11:52

    How Pavlovian. A newspaper published an editorial fairly and factually criticizing high-speed rail and Cruikshank whips out his keyboard and writes a few thousand words calling them liars.

    Spokker Reply:

    The editorial writer did not do his or her due diligence (lol). They failed to mention that the change in the fare was prompted by a change in setting the fares at 50% of air fares to 83% of air fares. The editorial failed to mention that the cost of the project is now expressed in year of expenditure dollars rather than net present value. The editorial failed to see the futility in comparing once-a-day long-distance rail services that travel at a maximum of 79 MPH (and oftentimes much less) on trackage owned by freight companies to a 220 MPH bullet train on dedicated right of way.

    That they are against high speed rail is none of my concern, but they were remiss in mentioning these facts.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Nice post, but don’t waste to much time with these trolls. People like “Truth be Told” don’t want the truth; They just want to believe and listen to whatever suits their world-view. But in the end, WHO CARES! We’ll be getting our HSR in 2020 regardless of what some gazette editorial states or what some naysayers want to believe.

    Spokker Reply:

    Friend, I love to post. I post for the love of posting and nothing more. Few are willing to commit so much of their blood, sweat and tears to the art of posting.

    To sum, you’re right, haha.

  11. Paul
    Jan 5th, 2010 at 15:02

    One of the main reasons I’m leaving this country, again: I’m 36 years old and tired of waiting around for stuff to happen. Europe already has more beautiful and livable cities, better transport systems and many other socio-ralated positives, which are more personal opinion. I can’t wait to move back. Sorry for the rant :) I just don’t think I’ll see a full-blown usable HSR system here in my lifetime. California is well on it’s way to one line, but I’m no longer in California. However I can’t wait to ride it once it’s open.

  12. Paul H.
    Jan 6th, 2010 at 05:56

    I really do like the effort Robert, but I think instead of breaking down an article and giving rebuttals to each paragraph of said quoted article, you should be writing to papers of the benefits of the system, going on radio programs, getting the discussion going in a positive direction. We’ve heard it all before from these dying newspapers. we know these guys are hacks, you are preaching to the choir. It’s time to start ADVOCATING. You’re probably the most dedicated man to the cause of CA HSR on the web, I think it’s time to use that position to convince the masses to support the system. Enough with the counter-arguing with misleading, not credible media outlets. The media is shit in this country. Why do you think jon stewart and stephen colbert are becoming so popular? because the majority of the media has the heads directly up their own asses. the best journalism today is frontline on pbs. anyway, we don’t need you to give anymore voice to these tiny, insignificant newspapers. I know you will continue to, but please change course in this line of thinking. We don’t need to even know that these crap articles are written, you’re just giving them a larger voice.

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