Much like the owner of a sickly pet, it is time for California to lay its ambitious bullet train plans to rest, at least for now.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s long-standing passion project, which is demonstrably behind schedule and slated to cost just about twice as much as previously planned, has suffered from several harsh setbacks.
The goal of the high-speed rail system was an idealistic one. Transporting passengers the long distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles in a short amount of time could yield great benefits for California, but it’s unfortunately time to face the music and accept that the bullet train was not meant to be; not in current conditions. Brown jumped the gun horribly on the bullet train.
Voters approved a $9 billion bond for the bullet train, or Caltrain, but the real cost seems to be skyrocketing.
Federal reports show that the project could cost 50 percent more than initially estimated, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Much of the tax revenue going toward the construction of the rail has been “hogtied by complex taxpayer protections” that were within the bill, according to the Times.
Construction didn’t officially begin until 2014, and a federal risk assessment estimates that a significant portion of the construction will take seven years longer than previously estimated.
The issue of tunneling through the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles still remains a big obstacle.
The seemingly endless rise in costs and delays has caused faith in the project to plummet. At this point, it is a waste of time and money.
To add insult to injury, the project now faces further delay from the Trump administration’s decision to withhold a $647 million grant that would have helped finance it.
Brown is working to get the administration to reverse its decision, but it has come time for him to face the facts.
If the powers that be don’t bring an end to the project, then Brown’s successor most likely will.
While it grows increasingly probable that the bullet train is destined to crash and burn, let us not lose all hope–the train has great potential that can still come to fruition if the idea is picked back up later when the timing is better.
The high-speed rail was estimated to raise over $1 billion in annual revenue surplus, according to a 2008 news release.
In addition, anyone living in Southern California knows there is a huge traffic problem, and the high-speed rail in question could lift a massive burden off of California’s freeways; not to mention a decrease in fuel emissions from cars.
Despite the good intentions of the bullet train, it is simply not its time. Environmental roadblocks, rising costs and devastating delays simply do not want this train getting built right now.
Despite all this, the idea of investing in more electric railroads for Southern California still has the potential to be beneficial.
Hopefully, with better circumstances, the people of Southern California will one day be able to see those benefits.