CA high speed rail, the Green “New Deal,” and NM Rail Runner

The decision by Gavin Newsom, the newly-minted Gov. of hyper-blue California to pull the plug on the Bay area to Los Angeles line is important. It is noteworthy that the Bakersfield to Merced route currently under construction will move forward, but the more critical, populous, and costly route will not move forward “at this time.”

The development of high speed rail across America will be VERY expensive if seriously pursued, but Randal O’Toole in his recent book really dismantles the case for widespread deployment of high speed rail in the USA. Basically, having to create new infrastructure to get from point to point nationwide is going to be incredibly expensive. The beauty of airports is that once they are built, they can be used to fly anywhere. High speed rail will require a literal “hub and spoke” system to every major city and the costs of that will be astronomical. (The book is still worth a read) This is just one component of the “Green New Deal” that is unrealistic and very expensive.

Finally, the Rail Runner remains New Mexico’s rail boondoggle. Larry Barker at KRQE did an excellent report recently found that taxpayers spent $800,000 on a “Lobo” platform for the train that is not even used. Of course, the train already has too many stops and the addition of the Santa Fe Zia stop didn’t help matters, but the number of stations and their placement is a political matter.

Ultimately, outside of a few high-population corridors, inter-city rail doesn’t make much sense. Where it DOES make sense (like the Bay area to Los Angeles) it is often so expensive to build that it doesn’t make sense once construction prices are considered. Policymakers (from  New Mexico to California to Washington, DC) need to read Randal O’toole’s book, really.


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3 Replies to “CA high speed rail, the Green “New Deal,” and NM Rail Runner”

  1. If CA were to ever split up, it would be east and west not north and south. That means the CA high speed rail line from Bakersfield to Modesto would be in the red state, not the blue state.
    If New Mexico were to ever split up, it also would be east west, not north south. That means the Rail Runner would be in the blue state.

  2. Consider “smart growth”, which started at ten residential units per acre, and now has passed 20 and is on the way to 40+.
    Schools are a big problem resulting in sprawl; folks want to live close to schools, yet we build them twice as large as they should be, an impact on education of children far greater than smaller classrooms would be.

    Time to serve the neighborhood, as we have known since at least the 1920s.

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