Author Topic: What the frell?...taxpayers to pony up for .... bids NOT accepted??  (Read 576 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27078
    • View Profile
  • Liked:
  • Likes Given: 0
The Bullet Train Bailout scheme

The unneeded and overpriced California High Speed Rail project was pegged as a boondoggle almost immediately after voters in 2008 narrowly approved selling $9.9 billion in bonds to start it rolling.

The scheme only has gotten worse, with condemning analyses by numerous government agencies and private organizations questioning everything from whether it can be built for the advertised price to whether there is sufficient ridership to make it profitable. Numerous lawsuits protest the proposed route. Polls showed voters would reject the train by 2-1 if given another chance.

Since 2008, estimated costs skyrocketed from an original $33 billion to $45 billion, then to $98 billion and, most recently, back to $68 billion. The current reduction is thanks to more broken promises. The route now is 480 miles compared with the original 800, and the supposed 200-mph train now will be much slower when it rolls through congested metropolitan areas. Who knows what untoward alterations and broken promises are ahead as rail authorities try force this round peg into a square hole.

As if all of this weren't offensive enough, the High Speed Rail Authority has announced it will pay contractors for bidding on designing and building the initial 30 miles of track, even if their bids are not accepted. Of five bidders, one will get the contract, but the four losers will walk away with a $2 million "stipend" for having submitted bids.

"We've never had a business plan. We've never had a funding source. We've never had an accurate ridership study, and we are thinking of [using eminent domain powers to seize] hundreds of parcels," said an outspoken critic, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point. "And we're sending out bids and paying out $2 million as if we are a private company for anyone who wants to bid but doesn't happen to win."

Rail authorities say the stipends are not that unusual for large-scale projects, and will result in lower bids. Maybe. But paying rejected bidders looks to us like a subsidy. Without the $2 million guarantee payback, would these contractors go to the time and expense to generate a bid for a stretch of rail on land not yet acquired, and subject to further court challenges?

The larger question, however, is whether the stipends violate the 2008 ballot proposition's explicit ban on subsidizing the project. Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't seem bothered. "You don't think the freeways are run with subsidies? The airports are run with subsidies. Come on. It costs money," Mr. Brown reportedly said on a radio talk show.

The attitude of high-speed rail backers from Day 1 has been to ignore promises and limitations in Proposition 1A, which authorized the bonds, which, incidentally, cover less and less of the total costs of this boondoggle.

Is this any way to run a railroad?

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle