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California Bullet Train

"More than likely, the California high speed rail will require large government subsidies for years to come."

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights.

  With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con. -Virginia Postrel Go To Site

A new study by the libertarian Reason Foundation finds that the California High-Speed Rail System will saddle taxpayers with losses between $124 million to $373 million a year. Exaggerated ridership estimates and slower-than-promised trip speeds make the California bullet train project a big financial loser for taxpayers, says the study. Go To Site

California moved full steam ahead on Wednesday with a $68 billion high speed rail project, a move that comes as the state slashes spending to close a nearly $16 billion budget deficit and as a string of its cities mull bankruptcy. Go To Site

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Waste

The price of the California bullet train project jumped sharply Friday when the state rail authority announced that the cost of connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco would be $77.3 billion and could rise as high as $98.1 billion — an uptick of at least $13 billion from estimates two years ago.

  The rail authority also said the earliest trains could operate on a partial system between San Francisco and Bakersfield would be 2029 — four years later than the previous projection. The full system would not begin operating until 2033.

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops, Debt

Officials are raising the projected cost of the first phase of California’s bullet train by 35 percent, to $10.6 billion. The extra $2.8 billion comes on a 199-mile segment in the Central Valley that is partly under construction. The California High Speed Rail Authority board discussed the increase Tuesday.

  The added cost is due to delays in obtaining rights of way and barriers needed along parts of the track, among other things. It boosts the overall cost of the project to nearly $67 billion, which officials say they hope to recover later. The project has been plagued by cost hikes and lawsuits since it was projected to cost $40 billion in 2008.

Democrat, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Financial, Oops

The California bullet train project, already mired by major delays and rising costs, is facing $1.7 billion in cost overruns on a 119-mile segment currently under construction through the Central Valley, a 27% jump over the original estimate, according to new documents...

  One of the state’s major contractor teams — led by the Spanish construction giant Dragados — is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in additional payments, rail authority officials said during a recent public meeting. Dragados was selected in December 2014 to build a 65-mile section south of Fresno for $1.23 billion. So far, it does not appear that construction has started.

Democrat, Environmentalist, Liberal, Election, Government, Incompetence, Character, Financial, Oops, Crazy, Experts, Demagoguery, Academia

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A confidential Federal Railroad Administration analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

  The California High-Speed Rail Authority had originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk assessment estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

The environmental reviews have grown ever more costly, based on an analysis of rail authority’s documents.

The original cost projection, made in a September 2010 grant agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, put the cost at $388 million. By last August, the authority’s official “funding contribution plan” showed that cost had jumped to $1.03 billion. The cost increase amounted to 167%.

California lawmakers approved billions of dollars Friday in construction financing for the initial segment of the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco. The move marked a major political victory for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration. Go To Site

Environmentalist, Editorial, Government, Incompetence, Funny, Oops, Regulation

California’s bullet train boondoggle was sucker punched yesterday, as a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked $68 billion in bond funding... The judge ruled the project would need to meet various mandates, compliances and environmental clearances before the funding stream can be allowed to flow.

Supporters, who claim that most high speed rail systems operate at a profit, use accounting tricks like leaving out construction costs and indirect subsidies.

If you tabulate the full costs, only two systems in the world operate at a profit, and one breaks even.

Democrat, Liberal, Incompetence, Financial

This month, a panel charged with reviewing the California project warned that it lacks a viable business plan and urged a reassessment of cost, ridership estimates, anticipated funding and risks before committing the state to billions of dollars that it does not have. "Our plan is to move forward, but obviously we are keeping a very close watch on the situation in Washington," said Gil Duran, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown. "It's not something we can do alone."

Environmentalist, Hypocrisy, Law

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to fast-track California's $69 billion high-speed rail project by easing legal scrutiny under the state's landmark environmental law, this newspaper learned Friday... Under Brown's proposal, train foes would have to prove in court that the project causes major environmental problems, such as wiping out an endangered species or damaging extremely valuable land.

Proponents of the project, including many veteran transportation experts, have said that California’s massive economy can handle higher costs for the project — even more than $100 billion — by increasing sales taxes or making firm commitments for additional future funding from the state’s general fund.

"It is foolish, and it is almost a crime to sell bonds and encumber the taxpayers of California at a time when this is no longer high-speed rail.

Government, Incompetence, Financial

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The new business plan for California's high-speed rail system shows the nation's most ambitious state rail project could cost nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted funding over a 20-year construction period, far above the amount originally projected. The initial estimate to build the system when voters approved bond funding for it in 2008 was $43 billion in non-adjusted dollars.

Editorial, Liberal, Government, Incompetence, Waste

California's much-vaunted high-speed rail project is, to put it bluntly, a train wreck. Intended to demonstrate the state's commitment to sustainable, cutting-edge transportation systems, and to show that the U.S. can build rail networks as sophisticated as those in Europe and Asia, it is instead a monument to the ways poor planning, mismanagement and political interference can screw up major public works.

When the Spanish construction company Ferrovial submitted its winning bid for a 22-mile segment, the proposal included a clear and inconvenient warning: “More than likely, the California high speed rail will require large government subsidies for years to come.” Ferrovial reviewed 111 similar systems around the world and found only three that cover their operating costs. -Virginia Postrel Go To Site