Another Academic Makes a Flawed Attack on HSR

Apr 25th, 2011 | Posted by

I’m wondering if the Koch Brothers went trolling for academics to attack the high speed rail project, because this is getting ridiculous. There’s clearly a concerted effort to use university professors to lend legitimacy to anti-rail arguments by publishing op-eds – which are usually full of false and/or misleading claims. Today’s example comes from a USC engineering professor writing in the LA Times. James E. Moore II starts off by making some false statements about the effect of Obama’s cave to Congressional Republicans on HSR funding:

The congressional action means that California will not get the $19 billion in federal grant support the authority was counting on receiving by 2016, nor (almost certainly) the $2.4 billion in grants that Florida’s governor declined.

As we explained earlier this month, what happened was that while FY 2011 money was zeroed out and uncommitted FY 2010 funding taken back, the 2009 stimulus funding remains. Much of Florida’s $2.4 billion is stimulus money, and California still has a crack at a big piece of it. And of course, the cuts do not at all mean California will never get any more federal money at all, since control of Congress might well swing back to Democrats in 2012 (the public is already turning on Republicans). So Moore’s claims here are simply incorrect.

Moore goes on to frame HSR as all cost and no savings, implying implausibly that the cost of doing nothing is zero (it isn’t), and suggests the legislature was wrong to kill Diane Harkey’s anti-HSR bill (they weren’t). Why does he assume this?

Moore is basically one of those people who is convinced that nobody will ride trains in America, and that the project’s price will soar. He has no evidence for either claim, and his arguments on both points can be easily debunked. First, the claims of high costs:

In 2008, the Reason Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. issued a report estimating that the final cost could run as high as $81 billion.

Both organizations opposed the HSR project, and offered no actual evidence at all to back up the claim, which was published in October 2008 in an effort to block Prop 1A’s passage. We debunked the study at the time – the study merely made an assumption that rail projects have 45% cost overruns, and that’s how they got to $81 billion. A bunch of nonsense, really.

Then Moore dredges up the flawed Berkeley ITS study yet again:

Believe the higher estimate. In 2010, UC Berkeley engineering and economics professors examined the revenue and ridership forecasts the authority relied on to help make its case to the electorate and the federal government, and found the forecasts deeply flawed.

No, that’s not what the Berkeley ITS study said. They disagreed with the ridership study’s methodology, but their own disagreements were themselves questionable. “Deeply flawed” is the spin HSR opponents have put on the study.

Moore has made some flawed statements so far, but it’s towards the end that he totally goes off the rails (pun intended):

Even if we were prepared to further bankrupt ourselves doing so, we would accomplish nothing that cannot be accomplished much more cheaply by expanding airports, better maintaining and managing roads, and using conventional technology to burn gasoline and jet fuel even more cleanly.

But if you ask the airlines themselves they actually *want* high speed rail. So do the airports. They know that on routes like LA-SF, high speed rail is a better way to move people, freeing up gates and runways for medium and long-distance flights where the real money is made. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission showed that HSR will draw 6 million people annually from Bay Area airports. That’s merely repeating a phenomenon seen around the world, including the Acela.

Expanding airports isn’t cheap, and one reliable estimate gave the cost of expanding airports and freeways in California to meet the same demand as HSR would serve as being between $80 and $150 billion. Even if you took the flawed Reason Foundation study as truth, HSR is a better deal merely on the construction costs alone.

Moore compounds his errors by arguing that air and auto travel is always going to be cheaper and more preferable to trains:

The market for U.S air travel has been aggressively deregulated, and airfares are relatively low. As a result, U.S. airlines capture a large share of the market for short intercity trips. Even with recent increases in the price of oil, retail gasoline prices in the U.S. are about half the pump price in Europe, and the differential is even greater relative to places such as China and India. Consequently, a large share of the U.S. market for medium and long trips is accounted for by automobile travel. There is not enough room for high-speed rail to compete.

This is all nonsense. Consider the links above showing that the airlines and airports themselves want out of the short-haul business. Airfares have only been low due to cheap gas prices; since 2008 high gas prices have caused a crisis in the airline industry. Fees have soared, airlines have gone bankrupt, and flights have been cut back. We know that gas prices will keep rising for some time to come.

All around the world – from Spain to the Northeast Corridor – people have already shown they prefer fast trains to planes when given the choice.

The same will be true of driving. Moore’s error is to assume that 2011 conditions will last forever. They won’t. Driving between SF and LA is long, inconvenient – and with rising gas prices, it will be costly. Spending 6-7 hours in a car versus 2:40 on a train is just not a good way for families or other travelers to spend their time, especially when the passengers are more limited in their ability to stay connected to their digital devices – and of course the driver can’t be connected at all.

I’m also assuming that Moore is totally unfamiliar with the mounting evidence of a great shift away from driving. Moore assumes everyone will just keep driving everywhere as they did in the late 20th century. They won’t, and they’re already making the change. For him to not even know about this shows just how little he actually understands about how transportation works in this country.

As longtime blog readers know, we spend a lot of time here debunking attacks on the HSR project. These attacks keep coming, and they keep being as full of nonsense and easily debunked false, misleading statements as ever. I’m getting pretty good at playing whack-a-mole…

  1. Miles Bader
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 22:08
    #1

    Heh; the fact that he cites a Reason Foundation study is enough to dismiss him.

    [Where do these bozos come from?!]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real America.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why wouldn’t he cite a Reason Foundation Study? From his sponsored research section of his CV:

    18. (with Tom Rubin) “Transit Paper Series Project.” A subcontract with the Reason Foundation to undertake research funded by the James Irvine Foundation, 1996. $25,000.

    Flimsy attacks on rail seem to have always been part of the bargain. From the published work section:
    40. (second and principal author, with Tom Rubin and Shin Lee) “Ten Myths About US Rail Transit Systems.” Transportation Policy, 6 (1999): 57-73.

    I read that paper last time I saw his name coming up attacking the CA HSR project ~ the bulk of his published research is on seismic impacts on infrastructure, and his lack of expertise outside that area shines through in the above paper.

  2. MGimbel
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 22:11
    #2

    Robert, have you thought about asking the LA Times if you could publish a response article to this?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Yes.. and why do these Anti-HSR articles always seem published..are they well know pundits or is someone paying to get this crap in the papers?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    One assumes that any pro-HSR piece (or something seen by the Reason/Cato/Heritage opposition as a pro-HSR piece, which at times might just be honest reporting) generates a stream of complaints about “not covering both sides”.

    Reason/Cato/Heritage have full time paid propagandists, and hectoring newspaper reporters and editors is one of the things they get paid to do.

    YESonHSR Reply:

    They have yet another one of there fake think tanks repeat this BS in todays internet news

  3. Wad
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 22:40
    #3

    As I’ve said in another thread, remember that Reason-affiliated forecasts on mass transportation have a track record of being wrong. Handle all claims as willful disinformation.

  4. Simon
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 22:57
    #4

    Any claims made by Reason, Cato or Rand Corporation are all worth ignoring. I wonder if any of these elitist libertarian bastards have ever taken transit at all to know what it’s like.

  5. Roger Christensen
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 23:00
    #5

    Gosh, James Moore back from the grave. In the 90s his anti rail op eds against MetroRail were a common LA Times feature. Including a proposal to rip the tracks out of the Red Line tunnel and run busses in them. Still as absurd as ever.

    Brian Reply:

    He actually wrote a 200+ pave diatribe about how mass insanity was the only explaination for the LA Blue line. Now the most successful light rail line in the country. Did I mention it’s ridership has grown faster than the LA county travel market for 20+ years.

    Someone was insane. But it wasn’t the Blue Line supporters.
    Just look at his 20 year record.
    http://www.usc.edu/dept/ise/directory/jmoore_publications.htm

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Took just a glimpse of that link, and I have to ask, “What is the matter with that boy?”

    Such–hatred–for anything on rails. I’m as train-geeky as they come, but I certainly don’t hate cars to that extent.

    Considering the age of the articles in question, I also wonder how old this fellow is, and if his photo at the college site is up to date; he sounds older than he looks (generational factor).

    I also have to ask, “What is the matter with USC?” Why is this guy still there?

    Out of curiosity, do you have the numbers for that ridership growth on the Blue Line, and a comparison with what was projected?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The Comments readers are posting are largely booing his opinion ..paid for by the Reason foundation since he is “on staff”

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds like He’s a paid Shill for Big Oil & albeit indirectly by Koch Industries, Who I’d rather Boycott. They are destroying America to try and make America into a Confederation, Like when the Articles of Confederation were in force where everything required a Unanimous vote of Congress, From what I’ve read someone in Congress wants a 2/3rds type vote on any bill to pass It and nothing less(could be just a silly rumor as I can’t find anything like this online), This 2/3rds nonsense has to be stopped, As It not a good idea, It just means Republicans don’t like change and want to suppress new ideas at any cost, The Republican party could end up like the CRP…

    Impotent and sidelined.

    But the senate should end the filibuster, As It may finally be the time to follow the example of the House. Plus eliminate secret holds on efforts to confirm nominees.

    The Repugs 2012 candidates are Trump and Ron Paul so far, Barbour is out, Both are going to the far right loonies(Sounds very familiar doesn’t It?), To keep those votes in the General election means the President could win and hopefully His Coattails would mean a fresh majority of Democrats in both houses and a President willing to go without bipartisan support If He’s betrayed one more time on any issue by the Repugs and simply go bypass the Repugs on any bills, And settling on a compromise solution that benefits all to get all the needed votes to do the job.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Also the Green Line has always been dubbed the rail to nowhere and when it opened both the LA Times and the LA Weekly suggested it would be lucky to get 10-12k daily boardings. Within three years it was doing 20k and today it often does 40k plus. With future Crenshaw, South Bay, and airport connector in the works, the Green Line has a dynamic future yet James Moore still disses it.

    thatbruce Reply:

    That harks back to the perception that mass transit projects must reach their ridership goals in the first year of operation, while similar expenditure on roads isn’t expected to meet their stated carrying capacity in the same time span (or indeed, at all).

    VBobier Reply:

    Then He’s an idiot nincompoop. 3.33-4.00 times what the LA Weekly suggested, Too bad, So sad.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Now the most successful light rail line in the country.

    Define light rail. The Green Line in Boston carries more passengers in a metro area that’s smaller.

    Wad Reply:

    The Green Line is considered a single line even though it has those branches?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. That’s why it has higher capacity – the lower-capacity surface sections are split among multiple lines, which are interlined in a higher-capacity subway.

  6. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 23:09
    #6

    I like this comment by one of the readers:

    “HSR must be a good program because the Teabags and their corporate sponsors are doing their darnest to kill this in California and they will not find success. They live in fear of a good example.
    Trains like airplanes needed time to grow a base of customers before reaching near maximum capacity. Therefore, just as the Capitol Corridor is now a success, so the HSR will be a success. PS. Success is built with the long-term public service not the long-term greed of plunder’it-tank’it-burn’it philosphy of Wall Street.”

    And my own PS, with a tip of the hat to Richard (he has something on it–specifically, the fifth link down, on BART’s geologic history):

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=31288

  7. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 23:15
    #7

    Off topic as can be (marine preservation), but while in a historic mode, thought this might be of interest for its California connection:

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=31287

  8. morris brown
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 23:18
    #8

    @Robert

    Your statement about the funding is hardly accurate. I’ll grant you, that the Florida money is certainly at this time not completely removed; on the other hand, it is not “obligated” and certainly the trend would seem to indicate that the chances of it being granted by this congress are close to nil.

    So just lets us see what will indeed happen to the the Florida money, rather than simply dismiss Moore. I would venture his assessment is of the order of 5 times more likely than yours.

    JJJ Reply:

    What does Congress have to do with the Florida money? Congress doesn’t vote on how agencies allocate funds. The money has already be granted, now Lahood and friends needs to redistribute it.

    joe Reply:

    Well, Congress *can* legislate (the slang is ear mark) that money be spent on a HSR project in FL, but if they had, Gov Scott would not have been able to refuse the funding.

    In this case, Congress didn’t ear mark the money; therefore the Executive Branch makes the call. CA can get the fnding and in fact any state whose congress critters and Gov are not supporting HSR would be bypassed – es, that means you Scott Walker in WI.

    J. Wong Reply:

    And the Senate is still in Democratic hands so unlikely to go along with anything passed by the Republican controlled House.

    Spokker Reply:

    I agree that Florida is out for the count. And even if Florida gets money, the private sector has indicated that they are sick of all of the nonsense.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not being obligated is part of what made it subject to being rescinded, but that opportunity has already passed, and they only rescinded $400m, out of the regular FY allocation. The ARRA allocation was untouched.

  9. MGimbel
    Apr 25th, 2011 at 23:33
    #9

    In case anyone else wants to read more about Moore’s love affair with rail: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xIVTAAAAIBAJ&sjid=gYYDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6895,1649324&dq=james+moore+los+angeles+metro+blue+line&hl=en
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=6TBIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JgENAAAAIBAJ&pg=5234,4325154&dq=james+moore+los+angeles+metro+blue+line&hl=en

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Gee whiz, this guy sounds as bad (and as incompetent) as Wendell Cox.

    Maybe we need to keep these guys around, so they can waste their sponsors’ money.

    JJJ Reply:

    Thanks for linking us to that. Imagine if the media actually followed up with on the “experts” they quote. My local paper has a “one year later” segment for local stories. I’d love to see segments for naysayers to successful projects.

    Lets make people like Moore eat crow, not reward them by printing more baseless speculation. If Moore said the subway would fail, and taxpayers would revolt…and then 10 years later taxpayers approve additional taxes for rail, then he needs to either come out and say “I was totally wrong” if he ever wants to see his name in print again.

    To reward him with more column space is idiotic and calls into question the quality of the paper printing his rants.

    MGimbel Reply:

    Don’t worry, what goes around comes around.

  10. M
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 00:10
    #10

    @Robert

    You’re clearly right that there’s a concerted effort to disseminate anti-rail op-eds and sour the public against the project.

    I think the idea of using academics to push op-eds is a smart strategy worth emulating. I think it’s worth organizing pro-rail academics and strategically utilizing them to get key pro-rail messages across.

    For example, (1) writing articles in local papers where NIMBY-ism is strong, discussing the positive economic impact of the HSR in their community and explaining the relatively minimal disruptive influence in comparable HSR projects around the world, and (2) writing articles defending cost, revenue, and ridership projections in newspapers with statewide reach like the LA Times and SF Chronicle.

    The key is having a ready-to-go list of academics that are timely tapped with consistent, well-researched responses.

  11. joe
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 03:28
    #11

    “Then Moore dredges up the flawed Berkeley ITS study yet again:”

    The Berkeley ITS Study needs to be challenged. There needs to be a counter point to the study.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Good point!!!!
    What does it take to counter the Berkeley (prestigious) ITS study?
    What does it take to counter the Legislative Analyst Report?
    What does it take to counter the State Auditor Report?
    And the rest of these anti-HSR reports/studies?
    These reports are constantly cited as 100% accurate and gospel by the anti-HSR crowd, including Burlingame Mayor/candidate for San Mateo County Supervisor, Terry Nagel, among many others.
    How do we expose Reason, Cato, Heritage, etc. for the fraud that they are? Their objective is only to support and encourage rubber tire transportation, highways, the automobile, and oil industry.

    joe Reply:

    I’m thinking about what to do with the UCB ridership assessment.

    I’ve read the “meta-data”; abstracts and letters between the prime contractor and UCB.

    Some concerns I have center around parsing UCBs statements about uncertainty in model parameters and harsh criticisms of estimates where UCB should offer what would be reasonable values.

    Interested in conflicting assumptions between the two and possibly comparing them to the UK study in Germany about observed impacts of HSR on economic and transportation factors. Do these observed changes agree with or conflict with the UCB or HSR assumptions.

    e.g If a 70-79 minute wait at the airport prior to a flight is not at all believable as UCB claims, what would be a reasonable estimate (I have 250K miles flying on my FF with 1 airline and don’t know what that’s not a good estimate or what is the right one). How sensitive is the model to that parameter? They may not know and could throw a ton of FUD – he findings read like FUD – HSR needs to do it over – they are NOT disagreeing with the numbers – just claiming the model is not precise enough.

    thatbruce Reply:

    That comment in the UCB ridership assessment, grouped under Issue 4 of the Berkeley responses to the Cambridge responses to a draft version of the report (p57 if that got a bit confusing), seems to come with the assumption that any time spent between your car (or however you got to the airport) and the gate is not countable. That is, the time scheduled for the flight should be directly compared with the time scheduled for the train journey.

    Unfortunately, that is a false comparison on both sides. The times being compared should be from outside the departure terminal or station to outside the destination terminal or station. This matches with what people experience, and with the airlines recommending arriving at the airport at least 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure to allow time for check-in and passing through security, not something that should have been ignored.

    Perhaps the report’s authors (David Brownstone, Mark Hansen and Samer Madanat) should have had a discussion with their colleagues at the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research, also housed at ITS Berkeley. That group, NEXTOR, also runs classes and conferences on how to design airports and handling passenger flows within them.

    A paragraph out of an ITS/NEXTOR paper soon after the ITS ridership assessment is directly relevant:

    The confluence of flight delays, ever increasing security measures, and a succession of economic downturns has created an environment in which business travelers, who used to arrive just in time to catch their flights, now spend considerable amounts of time waiting in security lines, at gates, and on the tarmac both before and after their flights. Confounding the problem even further is the unpredictability of air travel.

    While you can quibble over the exact amount of time that travelers spend at the airport prior to boarding their flight, you can’t escape that it is a considerable amount of time. Having it be between 30 to 60 minutes, as recommended by the airlines, should be an acceptable compromise.

  12. swing hanger
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 06:30
    #12

    Don’t you notice that most if not all these “expert” commentators, while possessing seemingly peerless academic credentials, are not actually specialists in the field of high speed rail transport, nor do they have real world experience actually planning or managing such a system- far away from the ivory tower culture of academia. Then again, you likely have to look abroad to get anyone that has the chops to speak authoritatively about HSR operations and business models…

    joe Reply:

    KRUGMAN:

    April 3, 2011, 4:11 pm
    Diminished Individualism Watch

    A few weeks back I commented on a George Will column in which he said that

    the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.

    So I think that it is my civic duty to report that yesterday, as I got off Amtrak 161 from Trenton to Washington — having spent 2 1/2 hours being made more amenable to collectivism, not to mention finishing another chapter for 3rd edition — I saw George Will leaving the business class car. (I usually prefer the coach quiet car.)

    wu ming Reply:

    ha-ha!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Moore’s an engineer specializing in seismic impact on infrastructure. So he is, in effect, making his living due to legal requirements to study potential seismic impacts on public infrastructure projects.

    Another libertarian living off of the side effects of government regulation.

  13. Alon Levy
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 08:35
    #13

    Bleh. The guy got quoted saying that CAHSR is stupid a few years ago in an article on, I think, the LA Times, trying to find false balance. He was there to give an opposing quote to Vukan Vuchic (an expert on urban transit), who went on record supporting HSR.

  14. dave
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 09:19
    #14

    It’s simple people, the way the country elects people into office, hires people for Mainstream TV News, Newspaper Eds. is that they choose people that are already saying what ever the funding source wants. They get a University Prof. or whatever that has the “credentials” so we beleive him and he’s already advocating what needs to be said.

    Why the hell else do we have people like Randal O’Toole tricking people by saying High Speed Rail is Light Rail and then slamming it? Then it makes it to the Newspaper, he’s paid to speak at events across the contry.

    It’s also the reason the SAME wrong people are picked by Governments and the President even though they have an astoundingly BAD record of being fuck-ups, they still get the job. These people beleive they are absolutely doing a 100% good job when they’re the opposite.

    Take a look at MGimbel’s links above and you’ll see 20 years later they are the same people, same beleifs, same false message.

  15. Ken
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 15:29
    #15

    Can’t we hire use Chinese or Japanese mobsters to silence these people off? It’s probably faster to just give them a million to stick a prize horse’s head into the bed of the Koch Brothers than dealing with this over and over again.

    VBobier Reply:

    No.

    Ken Reply:

    Why? We let the conservatives trample us using brute force by slapping people with money why are we sit back and do nothing?

    Just watch Fox News: there’s no sense in talking with these people. All they care is about protecting their assets so they can make another billion.

    Why should we just shut up and do nothing? If that’s the game they want to play, let’s get back at them.

    I say do the Chinese method in getting stuff done. Seems to work well over there, that’s how they’re kicking our butts at everything. They don’t negotiate or spend years and years talking, they get stuff done now when material prices and labor costs are still cheap and silence out the naysayers through any means possible.

    Democracy doesn’t work when it comes to getting things done fast. You want things done now, the Chinese method works best. Let’s implement it.

    wu ming Reply:

    you know nothing of china, japan, or for that matter, america.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ken I can’t watch Faux news as Its not on My UHF TV antenna…

    It isn’t right, Murder for hire, Is still Murder, I’ll have no part in this.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure. I move that the first group of people to be killed is idiots who leave eliminationist comments on blogs, on the grounds that they’re so offputting their deaths would cause a net increase in HSR support.

    Peter Reply:

    Hmmm, I don’t seem to recall having seen nanashi on here lately…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who’s nanashi?

    Peter Reply:

    A guy on here who was advocating that PAMPA NIMBYs be executed. I got accused by him of being a NIMBY because I told him death threats were not ok.

    VBobier Reply:

    Good for You, Maybe the guys been banned? One can only hope He doesn’t return.

    spokker Reply:

    Wishing death on someone is not a death threat.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Neither is it very constructive.

    Wad Reply:

    No, but it’s the first step — it’s called testing boundaries.

    Jared Loughner and Tim McVeigh wished death on people, too.

    spokker Reply:

    So did Howard Stern.

    Wad Reply:

    How many people has Howard Stern killed?

    Spokker Reply:

    Zero.

    But my point is that there is a big difference between “I’m going to kill you!” and “I’m going to kill you!”

    There is also a big difference between “I’m going to kill you!” and “I hope to the Lord Jesus Christ you die in a fire.”

    Going back to the original complaint, that some person I’ve never heard of said that he (he because women are never violent, of course) wanted to see all NIMBYs on the Bay Area Peninsula executed.

    Now if one stops to actually work out the logic of that statement, one will find that the statement was probably said in jest, the hyperbole of it a function of one’s overall level of frustration. Those who get offended act as if that one person’s comment will spark a movement that leads to a city council vote that approves the execution of NIMBYs (assuming the resolution is not challenged in court).

    When one wishes death on someone, as in someone wishing to God that someone contract AIDS and die, it won’t actually happen. Unless there is further evidence that this person is as mentally deranged as Timothy McVeigh, take the stick out of your asshole and promptly place it in your mouth.

    Spokker Reply:

    As one of my favorite posters Wad, please note that I am saying that last part in jest. ;)

  16. StevieB
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 16:14
    #16

    James E Moore II has done several studies bashing rail for the Reason Foundation including Rubber Tire Transit: A Viable Alternative to Rail, Ten Transit Myths:
    Misperceptions About Rail Transit in Los Angeles and the Nation
    , and Why Rail Will Fail:
    An Analysis of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Range Plan
    . He has been wrong about the value of rail in Los Angeles and is wrong about the value of California High Speed rail.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    How, how, how do these clowns hold their jobs? Why does anybody believe them, much less pay them money?

    I’ve had this up before, but it seems like a good time to trot it out again. The link below is to the Washington, DC Metro system’s budget for 2010. The important reading starts on Page 59:

    http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/docs/approved_2010_budget.pdf

    Of interest is that the 100+ mile rail system, which is very similar in some ways to BART, handles twice the passengers for half the subsidy of the bus system; this includes fixed plant maintenance, which the bus system doesn’t face (it runs on shared streets and roads, and has little or no dedicated busway mileage).

    My wife’s comment was “Of course, trains are longer, they can carry more people.”

    That’s productivity, simply defined.

    YESonHSR Reply:

    Please..DP they are doing just what their bosses want them to write..not that its true and thats why them pay them good money..but when your Billionares that fund these propaganda think tanks its nothing to pay for this work…Just today another one of these same stupid opinions in the news from yet another puppet branch of reason

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, I understand that. It’s the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times and USC that I don’t get. Hell, these outfits pay for lies, and they aren’t benefiting from them the way the current Snidely Whiplashes (a/k/a the Koch Brothers) do. Paying for lies if you are the likes of the LA Times or NY Times makes you look bad. And for businesses like those, credibility is everything.

    At the same time, one good thing is that I think these bozos waste their sponsors’ money. I could do a better job promoting roads than Wendell Cox does, and I am a rail guy.

    Amazingly, Wendell Cox does a better job than James Moore, and Moore is trained as an engineer! Cox’s education is–what, something in political science?

    I’ld like to know what’s scientific about politics, at least in the classic sense of the physical sciences–which has become something of a question about the “science” of economics in recent years, as other economists such as Bruce McF and others have taken to writing about.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cox doesn’t do a good job at anything. Got sidelined in Florida, too – they had Poole in charge of lying to the public about HSR cost overruns.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Moore is just doing it as a side job, his main job is making money from government requirements to do analysis of seismic impacts of new government funded infrastructure projects.

  17. egk
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 17:10
    #17

    Wow, the guy really is shameless. Isn’t he afraid someone will point out that in 1991 he wrote that the predicted 54,000 daily boardings for the blue line in the year 2000 was “pie-in-the-sky”. But what? 56,000 then and today over 80,000.

    VBobier Reply:

    Showed them that they didn’t know what they were talking about alright, Plus how much the public likes light rail and/or passenger rail in general.

  18. Donk
    Apr 26th, 2011 at 19:50
    #18

    I just heard an NPR debate between James Moore and Curt Pringle on Which Way L.A.. Moore started off with the usual points about how we can’t afford HSR and how we are spending too much. He sounded really dull and monotone, and really just came off as a naysayer. He was saying something about how in order for CAHSR to succeed, we would have to outperform all of the other systems in the world by building faster trains and carrying more people. When responding to a point about road capacity and dependence on oil that the host made, he responded with something about how we can use our roads more efficiently and charge people the “real” price for using roads. He also tried to say how HSR in Europe is subsidized. Really he was unconvincing.

    Curt Pringle stole the show and sounded really enthusiastic, and made many of the good points that Robert makes, such as how most systems cover their operating costs, how the price of not building HSR is not zero. They also made the point that he is a Republican, which is great. I think most people who listen to this would have sided with Pringle.

    Listen for yourself – it was a great interview:

    http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/ww/ww110426should_high-speed_ra

    Spokker Reply:

    I would just Pringle on HSR as much as Moore. Neither of them know what they are talking about.

    Pringle thinks digging a tunnel under Anaheim to placate NIMBYs is no big deal, after all.

    Wad Reply:

    The debate is interesting to hear two right wingers take opposite sides of the HSR issue. The one upside is that it’s not partisan talking heads taking up the opposite side of an issue for the sake of putting on a show.

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