How Buyer’s Remorse Works

Sep 29th, 2013 | Posted by

A new USC/Dornsife poll shows that 52% of voters believe HSR should be stopped, a result that the LA Times’ Ralph Vartabedian calls a sign of “buyer’s remorse.”

I actually agree with using that phrase in this context. But it’s important to consider how buyer’s remorse works, which actually explains very well why these poll numbers look the way they do – and why we should not expect those numbers to last.

Imagine, reader, that you are making a big purchase. Maybe a new refrigerator. Your current model is at least 25 years old and has served you well, but lately its age has begun to show. It leaks. There’s a weird funk to it that you just can’t get rid of no matter how much you scrub. The motor is noisy and wakes you up at night. It doesn’t keep food and drink as cool as it used to, and it’s not very energy efficient.

So you decide to buy a new one. You do some research online, read reviews, look at different options. You find a model you like at a price you like, and drive over to the big box store to make a purchase. You take a look at it in person, you’re satisfied it’s what you need. You arrange a date for the store to deliver the new unit and pick up the old one, and you go to the register to pay.

Sometime in the very near future, perhaps as you are standing there at the checkout stand, you’re going to start wondering if this is the right move. Yeah, you convinced yourself you need a new fridge, but now you’re seeing the cost. It’s rung up now. You have paid hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for it. And whether you paid via credit or debit, you know that money is now gone from your hands.

Yet you don’t have the new fridge in your possession. It won’t arrive until Wednesday. And maybe on the drive back home, maybe as you walk in the front door, maybe when you log in to your online banking account and see your balance has changed significantly, buyer’s remorse will set in.

But here’s the thing about buyer’s remorse: it doesn’t last. It exists only in that moment where the costs are tangible to you but the benefits have not yet materialized. Once those benefits become tangible, your remorse quickly fades.

Wednesday arrives and the new fridge is delivered. The old one is wheeled away. In its place is a quiet, clean, cool machine that keeps your beer and your veggies fresh. You’re not assaulted by some unidentifiable funk every time you open the door. It doesn’t leak. And when your next electric bill arrives, you’re pleased to see that it is noticeably lower.

At that point you realize yeah, buying the new fridge was totally the right thing to do. How silly of you that you had a moment of doubt. You could have canceled the transaction before the fridge arrived. And now you realize you’d have been a dumb-ass if you did.

Buyer’s remorse over high speed rail functions in exactly the same way. Right now the costs are tangible, but the benefits aren’t. Construction hasn’t begun yet. People aren’t riding bullet trains, saving money, and fighting global warming. There are no Facebook photos of your friends having a great time on the train. No Vines uploaded to your Twitter stream of people standing near a track filming the train whooshing by at 200 miles an hour. No snarky text messages from your friend in LA saying “I went to House of Nanjing for dinner and was home in time to watch Letterman.”

Of course opposition to HSR is going to have risen by four percentage points since 2008. The media has been full of stories about its costs, its problems, its adjustments, and no tangible benefits have arrived yet. I would not be surprised at all to see a similar polling trend for other megaprojects. When the only thing that is real are the costs and the benefits remain merely a promise, it’s logical for some people to start feeling uncertain and doubtful.

And it is equally logical to proceed as planned. Because those doubts are a product of a specific moment in time, the point between purchase and delivery. It is extremely foolish public policy to quit before construction has even begun just because we’re not far along enough on the timeline to see tangible benefits as well as costs. Take this poll again once the bullet trains are operating and you’ll find that more than 52% – the percentage of yes votes that Proposition 1A received in November 2008 – will support it.

So yes, there’s been a four point swing against HSR between November 2008 and September 2013. That’s actually pretty small, and given how buyer’s remorse works, we know that it won’t last. The fact that the swing is so small is a sign that this project retains most of its supporters and even a relentlessly negative campaign against HSR by the right and the media have failed to erode its support except at the margins.

We can look more closely at this poll to find more good news:

• 65% of respondents agree that the bullet train project will create jobs and help the economy.

• Respondents are very closely split on the question of whether the project is a waste of money, with 51% saying it is and 45% saying it isn’t. That’s a very close number and again suggests that HSR retains substantial support in the state.

Further, there are reasons to question the veracity of this poll:

“Over the last five years, voters have had to tighten their belts, and they feel the government should be doing the same thing,” said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, the Republican firm that helped conduct the poll for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and The Times.

Forgive me if I am not convinced that a Republican poll of HSR is going to be completely accurate. I’m not naive either, and I would not be surprised if a Field Poll found numbers similar to this. I know that Californians are split on HSR, especially in this awkward place when money has been obligated but nothing has yet been built. But this poll may well understate the true level of support for HSR.

In addition, some of the respondents clearly have some flawed ideas:

Poll respondent Lara Erman, a Burbank resident, cited those concerns as the basis of her opposition to the project. “Our state and our country are in a lot of trouble right now with the condition of the economy and the job market,” she said. “It would be better served as a private enterprise project.”

This is a very illogical and contradictory position to hold. We are in a lot of trouble with the economy and the job market – which is precisely why right now is the best moment to go spending government money on a project that will create 20,000 jobs in the next few years. Lara Erman, like many other Americans, has been bombarded with messages over the last five years that in a recession, government spending is bad. That message is an outright lie. The best possible time for government to spend billions is during a period of economic weakness.

Bryan Koenig, an aircraft mechanic in Ridgecrest, said he objects to the project mainly because he won’t use it and “the cost is exorbitant.”

I mean no disrespect to the people of Ridgecrest, but it has to be said that HSR is not being built with their community in mind. Ridgecrest is a city of 28,000 located at the junction of Highways 14 and 395 in the far northern Mojave Desert, about 82 miles north of Palmdale. Still, I think Bryan Koenig will be surprised. Once HSR is open, he might just find himself driving down Highway 14 to Palmdale, parking the car and boarding a train that, with a transfer at Union Station, can get him to Dodger Stadium or the beach faster than his car can in the SoCal traffic. Or he might be right and he’ll never use it, but that’s fine, it’s not being built with him in mind.

HSR opponents will cite this poll as more evidence that the project should be stopped, but the reality is that it shows stronger public support than they anticipated at the moment in its timeline when you would expect support to ebb and opposition to peak. Call me Alfred E. Neuman if you must, but I’m not worried about this poll. I’m much more worried about the extremists in the House of Representatives who are about to shut down the US government unless their demands for more destructive austerity are met.

  1. Joe
    Sep 29th, 2013 at 21:16

    I think Roberts being generous. The poll remods me of polls showing how much an ass whooping meg Whitman was going to put on Jerry Brown. Or polls showing approving HSR prop1a would Doom Prop30.

    All they have are polls to prop up their opposition. Any election and a real debate would clear up the misinformation and they’ll lose again and again and again.

    Kevin McCarthy R-CA is GOP house majority whip and vows to shutdown government and attack affordable health care act in every legislation the house passes. That’s how nutty this opposition to HSR and all things Obama has gotten.

  2. JJJJ
    Sep 29th, 2013 at 21:22

    Why would you buy a fridge, with 100 year old technology, when right around the corner theyre going to release hypercool technology, which will hold more food, keep it colder and cost less to run?

    Seems like a bad choice.

    Evan Reply:

    Because it turns that new hypercool technology was just a bunch of hype. And, turns out when you add things up, it costs just as much as your normal fridge but doesn’t store nearly as much stuff.

    joe Reply:

    Hyper Loop was polled as a 30 Minute trip for only a $20 one way fare.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Given those attributes anyone who said they weren’t excited about the Hyperloop should have their head examined. It’s like I said with the Hyperloop the first time. If you ask people if they want a unicorn and to win the lottery of course they will say yes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I wasn’t excited, because I knew it was too good to be true, and once details came out, it was.

    Eric Reply:

    You can go to the store whenever you want and buy a new fridge 10 minutes later. How many years, if ever, will it be until CAHSR is finished?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It doesn’t matter how many, the cost projections for Hyperloop aren’t going to go down.

    Eric Reply:

    True, but “in decades” versus “some say never” is not the most marketable contrast.

    TomW Reply:

    There’s a certain irony here – the first practical mechanical refrigeration unit was invented in 1841 – around the same time as the railways got going…
    So I’ll stick with the technology that’s been around for a long time, and polished and refined by a lot of clever people, over some vague possibility.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Kind of, sort of. Yes, there was the technology then, but it wasn’t a consumer good until about the 1920s. This is not like railroads, which from 1830 got large numbers of passengers. 19th-century fridges are more like 18th-century horse-pulled mining railroads.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Are we running out of water to make ice? …for an ice chest.

  3. Elizabeth
    Sep 29th, 2013 at 21:58

    OT The Central Valley is flat, but the ground is weird

    After months of back and forth, CARRD finally got the memo URS prepared on Fresno- Bakersfield geotechnical issues,

    Very thorough report. We would appreciate the help of any engineers with understanding of soil-structure interactions wrt high speed rail to help interpret. (big) (bigger)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s the same weird ground they have been building highways on for a century and railroads on for even longer.

    agb5 Reply:

    No chance of building on bedrock which is 30,000 feet below the surface, so all elevated structures will be built on ‘piles’.
    TPZP has selected Cast-in-drilled-hole (CIDH) piles as being the most suitable, this involved drilling a long thin hole in the ground and filling it with concrete.
    The diameter, depth, and number of piles depends on the density of the soil which can be determined using a test pile.
    One of the first things to be done on the Fresno section is the installation of a test pile by the San Joaquin River, at the start of the dry season, around mid April, with the production pile installation beginning in June.
    You will probably see a lot equipment from this German company which is the world leader in foundation drilling machines. Their machines are the Swiss Army Knives of hole drilling, and come with a set of ‘tools’ to quickly drill deep into any soil type, no matter how ‘weird’

    swing hanger Reply:

    The high speed rail lines in Japan are built on soft ground, and seismically active ones at that. For this reason, Japan was an early adopter of multiple unit (distributed traction) high speed rail trainsets (the 0 series from 1964 being the first), as the axle loads were lower than trainsets with locomotives on each end.

    TomW Reply:

    In England, the Chatham Moss line was built on a bog. The line literally floats on the wet ground… it’s still used by modern trains on the same foundations to this day.

    jonathan Reply:

    I think you mean “Chat Moss”, on the Birmingham-Liverpool line, built by Robert Stephenson (George Stephenson’s son).

    if memory serves, Stephenson initially planned to dump fill into the Moss, but gave up as the fill kept subsiding to either side of the track line (blah blah blah angle of repose in peat blah blah blah).

    The successful design involved (again, IIRC) involved dumping layers of heather fascines; “hurdles” Ithink’ baskets) , filled with stone; and logs in a herring-bone; until the surface stayed above winter bog-surface. Put ballast on the logs, and presto. The design intent was to spread the load far enough that the layers wouldn’t subside.

    You can talk about “floating” on peat, but then one has to ask serious questions about dynamic viscosity, or “poise”. Shall we go there? (I have no idea what the P of peat is, relative to, say bitumen (asphalt). But one can cut peat, and stack it for weeks; bitumen would flow together under its own weight in that time.)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Norfolk & Western (Norfolk Southern) also has a “floating railroad,” built for predecessor Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad:

    “William Mahone (1826–1895), an 1847 engineering graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), was employed by Francis Mallory to build the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (N&P) and eventually became its president in the pre-Civil War era. Construction of N&P commenced in 1853. Mahone’s innovative corduroy roadbed through the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, Virginia, employed a log foundation laid at right angles beneath the surface of the swamp. It is still in use 150 years later and it withstands immense tonnages of coal traffic.”

  4. morris brown
    Sep 29th, 2013 at 22:59

    Robert, Robert — anyone that buys into the nonsense you posted here really should have their head examined.

    “Buyers remorse” from the voters may be a correct conclusion, but certainly not for any of the reasons you mention.

    Why don’t you talk about Voters being told the project was a $32 billion project, not a $100 billion project, (lets not mince words here, the current estimate of $69 billion is a joke). Why don’t you talk about the project not being completed by 2020, but will extend well into the 2030’s before it can possibly be completed. Quentin Kopp certainly has what has taken place here correct when he labels the current project “The Great Train Robbery”. No wonder there is Voter Remorse.

    HSR opponents will cite this poll as more evidence that the project should be stopped, but the reality is that it shows stronger public support than they anticipated at the moment in its timeline when you would expect support to ebb and opposition to peak.

    This quote is pure garbage. In point of fact the Authority proclaimed that support would grow and not diminish at this stage in the time line.

    And, Robert, what about 70% of the voters wanting a new ballot measure.

    Then we have the strong opposition from those living in the Central Valley; those with the “shotgun” being currently leveled at their heads.

    When David Crane was on the board, he supported building in the Central Valley first and one of his biggest supporting claims was, built it where they want it; “the love us in the Central Valley”.

    joe Reply:

    This quote is pure garbage. In point of fact the Authority proclaimed that support would grow and not diminish at this stage in the time line.

    Yet we are some how at this stage in time. The repeal ballot initiative failed to get on the ballot.
    HSR Prop 1A didn’t hurt Prop 30.

    Each and every time the people vote, it favors HSR.

    Even Jerry Hill, State Senator from NIMBY Peninsula advanced HSR.

    Eric M Reply:

    Then why are so worried about what he writes and keep posting anything anti-HSR?

    Bill Reply:

    If opponents hadn’t been fighting this tooth and nail construction would’ve started years ago and most likely with a smaller price tag due to inflation. The cost will only continue to inflate as precious dollars are wasted not building and fighting court battles all while trying to plan the system. What the opponents don’t seem to realize is that THEY have wasted a billions(or at least millions) through obstruction which has only served to delay, not deter construction.

  5. roger
    Sep 29th, 2013 at 23:17

    This blog keeps digging itself a bigger hole. The poll was jointly conducted by Democratic and Republican firms, American Viewpoint and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. But, this blog doesn’t like the result which shows that voters are against it so he tries to ignore the voters by claiming the poll was biased by republican pollsters, as if it wasn’t jointly conducted with Democratic pollsters.

    If anything, the poll was biased in favor of hsr because it continued to use discredited numbers like the two hours and forty minutes even though everybody here has acknowledged and written that off as unrealistic. If the polls had given voters the real cost and how much time the train would actually take, the numbers against this project would have been much higher. And, the numbers who said they’d take the train, which was already a minority, would have fallen even much lower.

  6. Alon Levy
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 00:41

    In 2008, HSR passed 52-48. Right now, in a poll HSR is losing 52-48. This is not a very sweeping rejection, not by the standards of the margins of California ballot propositions. (Compare this with partisan elections, where about 90% of the voters always vote for the same party, so winning 52-48 vs. losing 52-48 is a large shift in the universe of people who can be swayed.)

    joe Reply:

    52% oppose with a +-2.9% margin of error in the poll.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That means that there’s a 91% chance the majority is against HSR, assuming the poll sample is perfectly representative (which it of course isn’t, which is why I think the poll means so little – issue polls are a lot harder than election polls or even ballot prop polls on things that elicit strong opinions like gay marriage).

    Margin of error just tracks when the probability hits 95%.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Alon Levy, @Robert

    In Nov 2008, indeed HSR passed by a 52% yes – 48% no vote.

    This poll is not showing HSR losing by a 52% – 48% margin. This poll is showing 52% stop, but only 43% go ahead; there is missing 5% who don’t know or don’t care to vote. In a ballot measure if this 5% broke out in a 52% – 43% ratio, the final ballot measure would be around 55% no and 45% yes. So lets be honest about what the poll is showing and agree that there is a much greater percentage of “Voters Remorse” than being portrayed by Robert and Alon.

    This was clearly pointed out in the LA Times front page article by Ralph Vartabedian.

    Statewide, 52% of the respondents said the $68-billion project to link Los Angeles and San Francisco by trains traveling up to 220 mph should be halted. Just 43% said it should go forward.

    StevieB Reply:

    The people are not well informed about high speed rail. They are discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.

    How a poll is worded matters to the result. The USC Dornsife/LA Times poll is worded to emphasize the difficulties CA High Speed Rail has had. The poll talks about delays caused by opponents to obstruct funding and environmental clearances as well as ongoing lawsuits. If the poll were worded describe the benefits to Californians from more travel options, energy savings, reduced pollution, the increases in jobs and economic activity due to High Speed Rail especially around stations in the central valley which is one of the hardest hit areas by recession in the country, then the poll results would be very different.

    CaliforniaDefender Reply:

    Most of the delays the HSRA has encountered have been self-inflicted. Lawsuits have not delayed the project, HSRA has pursued funding, continued to prepare environmental documents, and proceeded with contracting and land acquisition activities all while lawsuits were pending. HSRA has spent years speaking exclusively about the promised benefits, and yet many unsophisticated members of the public are able to see through the lofty rhetoric to what’s really happening — to their credit.

    Joe Reply:

    Most HSR opponents are misinformed. Some think the ride from LA to SF ends in San Jose and they’ll have to transfer on Caltrain.

    Derek Reply:

    I believe that’s true until 2026 (Bay to Basin).

    joe Reply:

    Is it? Electrified Caltrain will accommodate HSR trainsets. Once they get to San Jose, the rest of the way is initially, on blended HSR.

    Derek Reply:

    Caltrain electrification is scheduled to be complete in 2022, but the Pacheco Pass segment won’t be complete until 2026.

    joe Reply:


    Prior to that, will riders transfer off HSR onto Caltrain at San Jose …

    Joey Reply:

    2026 > 2022. The Peninsula Corridor will be electrified by the time HSR arrives in San Jose.

    Derek Reply:

    In 2022 when the IOS starts up, if Metrolink is electrified by then, you’ll be able to get on a HSR train in Los Angeles, ride it to Merced, transfer to the Amtrak San Joaquin and take it to Oakland, and then find your way to San Francisco from there.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Can we maybe not make assumptions on opening dates before the money is available? If as a result of shutdown backlash the Democrats retake Congress next year, California is likely to get multiple billions in HSR funding, potentially enough for an IOS, and if appropriations continue, funding for Bay-to-Basin can materialize much earlier than 2026. Conversely, if the GOP keeps Congress, and The Bully wins the 2016 election, then funding may be delayed significantly.

    The business plan’s dates are guesses. There are no sources of funding identified, no clear statement of the assumed funding schedule. And it’s only funding that prevents the entire project from being completed by 2020. It’s not the environmental reviews or the design; those are behind schedule, but not by decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    His Girthyness will never be able to win Republican primaries. He’s far too modern for Republican primary voters.

  7. Judge Moonbox
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 06:30

    “Over the last five years, voters have had to tighten their belts, and they feel the government should be doing the same thing,” said David Kanevsky of American Viewpoint, the Republican firm that helped conduct the poll for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and The Times.

    Would Kanevsky say that when an enemy attacks, civilians run away, so the army should, too? It’s the same logic. Why shouldn’t the government stand and fight against the rise in unemployment that a recession brings? Someone could argue specific cases, but not general principles.

  8. joe
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 07:32

    Congressional HSR opponents are serious people.

    Well, based on these numbers from a new CNN poll conducted over the weekend, the early results are in:

    Do you think the Republicans in Congress have acted mostly like responsible adults or mostly like spoiled children during the recent debate over the federal budget?

    Like spoiled children: 69
    Like responsible adults: 25

    Eric Reply:

    Did they conduct a poll regarding Democrats?

    Bill Reply:

    Well congressional Dems aren’t causing a government shutdown by trying to insist that Americans don’t deserve affordable health care. Congressional Republicans have been acting like spoiled brats since ’08.

    joe Reply:


    No one is polling well over this but the Republicans are fairing poorest and if history repeats, the fall out has yet to occur. And these same people oppose Obama’s HSR initiative.

    “According to the poll, 58% say congressional Democrats are acting like spoiled children, with that number rising to 69% for the GOP in Congress. Only one in four say congressional Republicans are acting like responsible adults.”

  9. Paul Dyson
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 08:36

    Buyer’s remorse? Buying implies something being delivered in return for money spent. The problem with the way this project is being built is that it delivers nothing to the vast majority and precious little for a few for at least a couple of decades, especially if you start the clock at 2008. I’m sure the majority of the poll respondents were not informed that their “purchase” would not be delivered for another 15 years and that it would not look quite like the item they thought they saw in the ad. (Management reserves the right to make substitutions?). Most people tend to get rather exercised when they have been swindled like that. Wait until the truth becomes more widely understood. A bit more than mere remorse!

    morris brown Reply:


    It is not only the voters who ” tend to get rather exercised when they have been swindled”, but the Federal Government as well. The Feds were promised the project would be completed with no more and an additional $12 – $15 billion from them, when the ARRA money was first granted. (The California voters in 2008, were promised the $9.95 billion Prop 1A funds would be all that would ever be asked from them to build the project)

    When the truth came out, and the Authority now expected the Fed to pony up about an additional $55 billion, they have said no. And Robert this is not just the Tea Party saying no; it is Democrats and Republicans all saying no.

  10. Mike
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 10:00

    The question itself:

    As you may know, in 2008, California voters approved a ballot proposition to borrow 9 billion dollars to build a high-speed rail line connecting Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 2008, construction of the high-speed rail line has been delayed several times and has run into problems with funding and environmental clearances. Construction is now slated to begin in 2014. Meanwhile, whether the project should proceed is the subject of a court dispute.

    Generally when you provide this type of negative information, and no positive information, you’re either pushing for a negative response or you’re an incompetent pollster.

    CaliforniaDefender Reply:

    So what positive information could the pollsters share about what has occured since the voters approved Prop 1A?

    StevieB Reply:

    The question to ask is why the pollsters mention “construction of the high-speed rail line has been delayed several times and has run into problems with funding and environmental clearances” at all. The intent of providing negative information is clearly to illicit a negative response. That this biased question did not provide a much more negative response is a testament to the continued support California High Speed Rail enjoys.

    Derek Reply:

    The economy has improved, the federal government has committed billions to the project and the price of gasoline has risen from a nationwide average of $2.099 per gallon in November, 2008 to $3.474 per gallon today.

    joe Reply:

    This is the only and first true HSR project in the United States and Californians are leading the way.
    The last major State construction project in CA was decades ago.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The UIC defines HSR as over 125MPH/200KPH on legacy track. There’s long stretches of the NEC where Acela does 135 and the plain vanilla Regionals do 125.

    jonathan Reply:

    The UIC defines HSR on legacy track as 200 km/hr. That’s _legacy_ HSR. Scheduled services in the 1960swere running significant stretches at 200 km/hr.

    if you want to call Acela a 1960s HSR, go right ahead.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Routes in places all over the world get called HSR that run at 200 km an hour. Long stretches of the NEC are capable of 135/217 with the right equipment. There’s a section in New Jersey being upgraded to 160/257 as you read this. It will be completed and they move onto the next section, well before California is laying ties. Assuming they decide to go with ties and not slab construction. Assuming California has decided on a route.

    Reedman Reply:

    Doesn’t the most expensive public works project in California history ($7 billion for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which opened last month) count as a “major State construction project”?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The WillieBridge serves as a template for DogLegRail, as far as spending goes.

    But no comparison or similarity when it comes to demand. The broken umbrella Bay Bridge enjoys a dolce monopoly whilst the DeTour is redundant. No matter how much the machine would like to kill off trans-California auto and air competition the way BART suppressed AC buses it ain’t gonna happen.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    whilst the DeTour is redundant.

    There’s a high speed rail link between Northern and Southern California?

    synonymouse Reply:

    high speed airlines still around – too powerful for the machine to eff with

    high speed I-5, with the promise of smart cars. Same price of the trip for 4+ as for 1.

    DogLeg forcing thru passengers way off route to Modesto, Fresno, Palmdale. Overcompensated, militant Amalgamated chauffeurs. Wildcats, slowdowns, broken down equipment and track.

    But you get a beautiful backyard view of methlabs in Fresnoland.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Need I add bangers ripping off copper right and left(see UC Berkeley)but only do a few months even if caught ’cause they vote straight party ticket. Your new electorate.

    joe Reply:

    Here’s picture of one banger
    Caucasian, 50+. You know the type. Classic banger.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they are gonna plow under downtown LA so they can build an airport eh? Or is the high speed plane a reference to the supersonic aircraft that will be serving LA-SF? We should all just get it over with and have them build those transporter things from Star Trek

    synonymouse Reply:

    Aren’t you going to claim he belonged to the teaparty too to complete the gestalt?

    breaking bad – we got any description of banger you want

    joe Reply:

    Not compared to what CA built in the 60s and 70s. No, not at all disruptive and ambitious. It replaces a current bridge and that simple task involved a fight between the Mayor of SF and Oakland over precisely where it was built for the sake of aesthetics.

    This is a system spanning and connecting the state’s population centers from the ground up – modern and novel for the US. It’s ambitious and involves many cities and counties.

    synonymouse Reply:

    However the same party patronage machine is controlling CAHSR.

    Same party hacks, same house contractors, same house unions. Similar outcome. Way mediocre, way bloated.

    Mike Reply:

    @CaliforniaDefender, the balancing “positive” information doesn’t have to be reports of progress since the project began. Typically, a competent and honest pollster will frame the question as “opponents say ….” and “supporters say ….”. They did the “opponents” piece. They left out the “supporters” piece, which could be what Derek or joe said, or stuff like:

    * The first construction contract has been awarded at significant savings and will create tens of thousands of construction jobs in the San Joaquin Valley.
    * California needs a low-carbon alternative to airplanes and cars.
    * California’s population will hit 50 million in just a few decades; without a high-speed & high-volume system like HSR, the state will be paralyzed by congestion.
    * Etc etc etc.

    YOU don’t have to agree with these arguments — I’m not even sure that I do — but it’s only a fair and competent poll if you give respondents arguments from both sides.

    JJJ Reply:

    LOL at the question

    Walter Reply:

    Are you kidding!?

    I just…

    I have no words for this poll.

    Travis D Reply:

    Indeed. Only a terrible human being would think this poll was honest.

  11. Reedman
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 10:08

    This morning, one of the LA Times sub-headlines for a story reporting poll results reads:

    The public wants California’s water problems fixed, but not enough to pay for it.

    Does this reflect the public’s opinion of CAHSR as well?

    swing hanger Reply:

    One thing about services such as water, electricity, or highways, is that everyone has experience using them and realize the benefits of investment. OTOH, with high speed rail, or even semi-decent intercity rail passenger service, likely 99% of the population has never experienced it, so they have no frame of reference.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    As I have written here before, CA residents want to be at the top of the mountain enjoying the view, but would rather leave the climbing to someone else.

  12. trentbridge
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 10:15

    A “poll’ is an abstraction” wrapped in an “assumption”. First of all – we are told that 1500 registered voters were randomly selected. We don’t know if the selection was based on voters having land-line phones – excluding a younger section of the community with only cellphones. Obviously, it is difficult to determine from “registered voters” how many are actual “likely voters”. And finally we don’t know how the poll was weighted for age of voter, gender of voter, or political allegiance. Change any assumption – age – gender – political allegiance and you distort the result to some extent. For example – you could believe that younger voters i.e. those likely to benefit from HSR are more in favor than senior citizens who may not live long enough to benefit. You might believe that women are typically more likely to support social political issues – i.e. public transportation than male voters. You might believe that Republicans are heavily against HSR and Democrats are heavily in favor of HSR.

    So a poll that weighs more towards seniors, men, and Republicans will be “against HSR” and a poll that weighs more towards younger, female, Democratic voters will yiled the opposite result.

    Dick Morris on FOX:

    Morris says Romney will capture 325 electoral votes while Obama will get 213, a significant difference.

    “It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history,” Morris said. “It will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nailbiter where in fact Romney’s going to win by quite a bit.”

    Morris tells van Susteren pollsters are oversampling Democrats and says a poll that claims Obama is up 3, really means Romney is winning by 4.

    Morris says Ohio is overrated and Romney can lose the state and still win the election. However, Morris predicts Romney will indeed win the state.

    Ahhh – those mysterious “over-sampled Democrats”….

    Mike Reply:

    There’s a “methodology” note on the pollster’s web site:

    Voters were randomly selected from a list of registered voters statewide and reached on a landline or cell phone depending on the number they designated on their voter registration. Twenty percent of this sample was reached on a cell phone. Up to five attempts were made to reach and interview each randomly selected voter … results were weighted to bring the Latino oversample population into line with the racial and ethnic composition of registered voters in California. The data were weighted to reflect the total population of registered voters throughout the state, balancing on regional and demographic characteristics for gender, age, race, and party registration according to known census estimates and voter file projections.

    Still, as you say, and as Nate Silver gained fame from analyzing and interpreting, this sample selection and weighting stuff is difficult and frequently introduces both random error and systematic bias. Apparently they didn’t try to adjust for “likely voters,” which is the most fraught form of adjustment.

  13. CaliforniaDefender
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 10:19

    morris brown has summed up the situation pretty well, so I won’t belabor those points. Suffice it to say, this poll reflects much more than buyers’ remorse. And I’m sure many of those who were polled do not know a lot about the current fiscal challenges the project is facing.

    For example, do you think they know how rapidly the Authority is running out of the available funds to complete the 130-mile “Initial Construction Section”? (Where the costs of land acquisition, mitigation lands, buidling track and stations, infrastructure relocation and modification, and “contingencies” must be added to the already $1B cost for CP1 (and CP2, CP3, and CP4).) Do they know that the Authority has not identified ANY additional funds to take HSR out of the Central Valley over mountain ranges and to the L.A. Basin?

    This is like being sold a state-of-the-art fridge at a “bargain basement” price (HSR was estimated to cost only $45B in the ballot materials) and then being delivered a Igloo cooler and two bags of ice.

    joe Reply:

    Oh these sad people – if they only heard about the project from objective sources – I understand some of the ardent and vocal opponents of HSR hold gross misconceptions. One for example HSR ends in San Jose and requires a transfer.

  14. Resident
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 10:48

    Robert’s claim is that buyers remorse is that feeling of regret due to a timing difference of having paid for something big versus the actual receipt of the item. (And then everything gets rosy once you have that nice shiny new thing in your posession.) So again, Robert – just making shit up to suit his story line.

    That’s not buyers remorse. Buyers remorse is the feeling of having made a mistake in a large purchasing decision, often arising from the feeling of having been swindled or tricked or pressured.

    Def: “Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.”

    So, this is precisely what is going on with California High Speed Rail – this poll shows that people actually would have actually liked to get the high speed rail promised in Prop1A. But they’ve figured out now that Prop 1A was just one big gigantic LIE, put forth by a bunch of scammers. There’s not a single thing promised in Prop1A that is now true, and the authority, and even the legislature, even the Attorney General and the Governor are even attempting to squirreling out of the PROTECTIONS that were hard and fast promised to the voters in Prop 1A. So do people have buyers remorse? Absolutely – and NOT of the ‘oh gee we can’t wait til it gets here’ type that Robert half-bakes up. The people now have the OH SHIT – WE’VE BEEN HAD kind of buyers remorse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART would benefit from a CAHSR implosion as Ring the Bay would certainly be resuscitated.

  15. Keith Saggers
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 11:20

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Using Amtrak-procured equipment, CBOSS signalling, infrastructure designed by Parsons Transportation Group, and a route dictated by Parsons Brinkerhoff North America.

  16. Eric
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 11:56

    I’m from Ridgecrest and while I’m certainly a minority here (Tea Party land), I plan on using HSR once it’s built. I can’t wait until I can drive to Palmdale and hop on the train up to the Bay Area.

  17. Tony D.
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 16:34

    I don’t have buyers remorse; I’d still love to have statewide HSR. What I’m now against is the current building/design scheme; building out from the Central Valley towards LA and the Bay. Wish we could revisit this thing to build at the end points (Caltrain, ACE, Metrolink upgrade/modernization), building through the Central Valley as funding became available. My fear is that (gulp!) we may indeed have a rail line to nowhere in the CV. Call me selfish, but I don’t give a damn if Fresnoians (?) are provided jobs at the expense of a more sensible plan to actually MOVE PEOPLE by rail NOW rather than NEVER. That said, if money starts pouring from the sky I will gladly get back on the current scheme bandwagon…

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Exactly. What the poll is essentially saying is that people are more interested in high speed commuter rail. The profits from that can fund the bridge from Palmdale to San Jose.

    The HSR corridors that should be built are as follows: SD-Santa Barbara through LOSSAN. I can guarantee you today that this would be one of the most booked HSR lines in the country. Use the remaining money to build out commuter and light rail and expand the stations that “feed” the HSR network with passengers. Prop 1A funds could cover around 60% of that alone.

    I think if Californians had the choice between such a plan and the old-fashioned Prop 1A plan, they would vote down Prop 1A.

    Tony D. Reply:


    Tony D. Reply:

    If possible, I’d also add ACE from Stockton to San Jose, with a BART transfer station in Livermore.

    blankslate Reply:


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Now if only someone can think of a way to have commuter rail make money.

    Joe Reply:

    Right! Commuter rail doesn’t produce a dyrplus, they run a deficit with fare nix collections.

    Any plan to build commuter rail and fund inter regional rail is, no matter how compelling an idea, impossible. The commuter rail would run a deficit.

    That fact would get out in a campaign and lose to an inter regional alternative.

  18. Joe
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 17:05

    Fresnonians don’t give a shot about my Silicon Valley commute either.

    Only way we move forward is to include everyone and that means build out from the CV.

  19. trentbridge
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 17:26

    From pollster:

    Gallup poll Obama job approval: Approve 44% Disapprove 48% (9/27-9)
    Rassmussen poll Obama job approval: Approve 51% Disapprove 48%. (9/26-28)

    So why think that this HSR poll has any significance when it deals with an obscure transportation issue (for normal folks not readers here) when the polls can’t agree – (in the same time period) about the President?

  20. Emmanuel
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 17:46

    I wouldn’t call it buyer’s remorse when so far, the authority has managed to break every promise made on the ballot when Prop 1A was passed. Shall we review?

    The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant
    to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following
    (a) Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue
    operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.
    (b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that
    shall not exceed the following:
    (1) San Francisco-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40
    (2) Oakland-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes.
    (3) San Francisco-San Jose: 30 minutes.
    (4) San Jose-Los Angeles: two hours, 10 minutes.
    (5) San Diego-Los Angeles: one hour, 20 minutes.
    (6) Inland Empire-Los Angeles: 30 minutes.
    (7) Sacramento-Los Angeles: two hours, 20 minutes.
    (c) Achievable operating headway (time between successive trains)
    shall be five minutes or less.
    (d) The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains
    for all of the corridors described in subdivision (b) of Section
    2704.04 shall not exceed 24. There shall be no station between the
    Gilroy station and the Merced station.

    It has nothing to do with buyer’s remorse when you pass a Proposition in 2008 with the promise that it was shovel ready by the end of 2011. Now it’s 2013.

    Derek Reply:

    Please indicate which of those promises have been broken, and provide your source(s) for each.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Knowing PB their interpretation of meeting 2:40 will a once in eternity run with one car loaded down with outsized motors and special gearing, no passengers, violating every safety rule in the book and known to man, with no other trains on the line whatsoever.

    They should have specified regularly scheduled service 2:40; that would have cooled the DogLeg deviation bs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And if they should damage the catenary – t.s.

    jimsf Reply:

    none of those promises have been broken.

  21. jimsf
    Sep 30th, 2013 at 18:27

    not every item listed will be met with the initial construction segment, or the initial operating segment, but ultimately, the system will reach these goals, segment by segment, phase by phase, upgrade by upgrade.

    The times listed are for full express (nonstop) ( 125 in the urban ends and 220mph in the valley)

    SF SJ 30 minutes…
    currently “Travel time for about 46.75 miles between San Francisco and San Jose is 57 minutes (four stops)” Thats at 79mph with four stops. Non stop at 100mph average can do 47 miles in 30 minutes.

    Headways can be 5 minutes on any of the segments that aren’t constrained.
    The reduction from 4 tracks to 2 tracks on the peninsula might be a problem except that two tracks is not forever regardless of what anybody says today. So eventually that can be met. ( even though it doesn’t ever need to be met in real life)

    total number of stations. No prob there.

    What some people seem to be confused about it that they are assuming the initial operation of blended service is permanent. Of course it isn’t. The system will continue to be upgraded, segment by segment over time, to full HSR its just not going to be built in one fell swoop.

    And prop 1a never said it would be built in one fell swoop.

    Even highway 99 is still only a 2 lane road in some places, but that isn’t a permanent situation either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Grosso modo they built BART in one fell swoop.

    Had CAHSR been built by a private outfit on a Tejon, I-5, Altamont alignment it would have been pretty much inaugurating everything at once, other than testing, because the Tejon tunnels would be the last to complete and without them the line would not be profitable to run.

    I doubt I for one will be around 20 years hence for the full blown ecstasy of JerryRail trekking around the Tehachapis.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    One fell swoop?

    It was eight years from groundbreaking to when the system opened. It had been 18 years of political maneuvering before that.

    synonymouse Reply:

    1966 to 1972 as I recall.

    The first week for the public I took an AC bus over to the East Bay. They were cranking the Rohr’s up to 100. For BART imho it was all downhill from there on.

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