The best laid plans - California's super train

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Looks like Governor Moonbeam's plans for funding this boondoggle ran into a bit of a hitch. From The Antiplanner:

CO2 Glut Threatens High-Speed Train
Jerry Brown’s brilliant plan to fund the California high-speed rail line out of greenhouse gas emissions allowances appears to be coming to a screeching halt. California’s most-recent sale of such allowances was expected to bring in at least $600 million; instead, it earned just $8.2 million. At the projected average cost of $200 million per mile, that’s enough to build about 200 feet of rail line.

The problem is that there is a “glut of emission allowances on the market” because so many entities, including various European nations and, in California, various public utilities, are trying to earn money selling them. On the other hand, potential buyers are unsure about whether the program will continue; if it is cancelled, the allowances they buy will be worthless. The California law is supposed to sunset at the end of 2020, and if revenues remain so low the legislature is not likely to renew it.

The other problem is that Brown was counting on emissions sales to fund projects the state can’t really afford. While the efficiency benefits of cap-and-trade are proven, it is far from efficient to use permit revenues to fund boondoggles. Even the Pope questions the morality of selling the right to pollute.

Most large-scale public transportation systems turn out to be massive wastes fo taxpayer money - it is often cheaper to buy each regular rider a Prius from the construction funds and then use the yearly operating funds to pay $10,000 for their gasoline. One example can be found at Orlando, Florida - from The Orlando Sentinel (caution - self-loading video with very loud audio):

SunRail ticket revenue is less than ticketing expense
It’s no secret that tickets bought by SunRail passengers pay only a tiny fraction of the commuter train’s bills, but less known is that ticket revenue doesn’t even cover the cost of selling tickets.

SunRail’s finances would be slightly stronger if riding was free. Put another way, the revenue of $1 to $7.50 per ticket is devoured by ticket machines, employees who support ticket sales and armored cars that collect fares, and does nothing to keep the train running.

To re-phrase that, it costs more to sell the ticket then the ticket machine collects from the rider. And then, they are stuck with the age-old problem that when the demographics change (and they do), the rail line will be stuck where it is while a bus can just change it's service route.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on March 4, 2017 5:29 PM.

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