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Bullet Train

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NEWS
August 12, 2013
The start of construction on California's bullet train, one of the nation's largest "shovel ready" public work projects that was awarded stimulus funding three years ago by the Obama administration, is slipping past already-delayed target dates, interviews show. In early 2012, state officials said construction would begin that year. Early this year, officials adjusted their sights, saying they would begin building the massive new transportation network in the spring, later announcing the groundbreaking would take place in July.
NEWS
March 7, 2012
California's distressed state budget will have to allot more than $700 million each year to repay billions of dollars that officials plan to borrow to build the first phase of a proposed bullet train, a nonpartisan government research office has found. The repayment projection by the state legislative analyst's office includes principal and interest on $9.95 billion in high-speed rail bonds approved by voters in 2008. The figure is higher than in the past - partly because of higher borrowing rates - and does not count millions of dollars already being paid annually on about $500 million in debt incurred to plan the system.
NEWS
November 18, 2011
The U.S. Senate approved a package of legislation Thursday night that eliminates future funding for high-speed rail projects, including the California bullet train. The vote, coming after a similar vote in the House of Representatives, leaves the future of the ambitious state project to create a new rail system from Southern California to the Bay Area uncertain. The state has less than 15% of the funds needed for the $98.5-billion project. Gov. Jerry Brown said last week that he will launch the project next year despite the prospect of a federal funding cutoff, using only the money the state has in hand.
NEWS
November 2, 2011
The ambitious plan to connect Anaheim and San Francisco with high-speed trains has encountered plenty of obstacles, including intensifying resistance from wealthy and poor communities lying in the track's path. But the bullet train's biggest threat could be its ballooning price tag, which this week doubled to an estimated $98 billion. Backers on Tuesday announced a major strategy shift, unveiling a reworked blueprint for the first leg that would delay completion 13 years to 2033.
THE818NOW
November 1, 2011
California's bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5 billion to build over the next 22 years, a price nearly double any previous projection and one likely to trigger political sticker shock, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday. In a key change, the state has decided to stretch out the construction schedule by 13 years, completing the Southern California-to-Bay Area high speed rail in 2033 rather than 2020. The delay allows inflation to drive up the price over the additional years of construction.
THE818NOW
March 26, 2012
A series of concessions over the last year to quiet opposition to the California bullet train has created a potentially lethal problem: the revised blueprint for the system may violate requirements locked into state law when voters approved funding for the project in 2008. The Legislature packed the law with an unusual number of conditions intended to reassure voters, protect the project from later political compromises and ensure that it would not end up a bankrupted white elephant.
THE818NOW
April 12, 2012
Responding to an outpouring of criticism from Orange County business, civic and political leaders, California's bullet train agency reversed itself Thursday and voted to pursue a direct service link to Anaheim in the project's initial phase. The commitment came as the California High Speed Rail Authority board, meeting in San Francisco, adopted a crucial $68-billion business plan for the controversial project. When a revised, less expensive version of the plan was released last month, it called for initial southbound service to stop at Los Angeles' downtown Union Station, foregoing long-promised, continuous service to the Orange County area near Disneyland and Angels Stadium.  As an alternative, state officials had said Anaheim-bound travelers could change to Metrolink or Amtrak trains, which would provide improved service on current routes.
THE818NOW
April 24, 2012
The state rail authority has grossly underestimated future operating costs of California's proposed bullet train, meaning taxpayers potentially will have to provide billions of dollars annually once the system is running, according to an analysis released Monday by a group of outside financial experts. The California High Speed Rail Authority's claim that its future system would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses is based on unrealistic assumptions about what it will cost to operate the network, according to the study group, which included former World Bank official William Grindley and Stanford University management professor Alain C. Enthoven.
NEWS
December 7, 2011
With the cost of the state's high-speed rail project rising dramatically, a new public opinion poll shows that a clear majority of California's registered voters would reject the proposal if given a second chance to vote on it today. Released Tuesday, the poll by Field Research Corp. in San Francisco found that 64% of those surveyed want another public vote on the $98-billion project and that 59% of respondents would oppose it because of changes in its cost and completion date.
THE818NOW
January 9, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown was right on track when he told reporters at his budget unveiling that "We've got to bite the bullet. " It was the perfect choice of a word. But, of course, Brown didn't mean "bullet" the way I wanted him to. Brown was talking about sucking it up and again butchering programs for welfare families and the aged, blind and disabled. And if voters refuse to pass his tax increases in November, he'll try to whack education from kindergarten through graduate school while crippling courts and even eliminating lifeguards at beaches.
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NEWS
August 12, 2013
The start of construction on California's bullet train, one of the nation's largest "shovel ready" public work projects that was awarded stimulus funding three years ago by the Obama administration, is slipping past already-delayed target dates, interviews show. In early 2012, state officials said construction would begin that year. Early this year, officials adjusted their sights, saying they would begin building the massive new transportation network in the spring, later announcing the groundbreaking would take place in July.
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NEWS
December 29, 2012
Frankly, I'm fed up with politicians telling me, “Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” when they really mean you better not get in the way of them serving some special interest at the public expense. I'm dismayed at seeing young people with Skullcandy in their ears, fiddling with an iPad mini while groping to answer their smart phone. Are they zombies programmed by unknown forces somewhere out in cyberspace? I've had it up to here with “progress.” Who needs a $100-billion bullet train?
THE818NOW
July 13, 2012
A new UCLA economic analysis of Japan'sShinkansen bullet train and its impact on the growth of cities along its route calls into question claims by state officials that California's high-speed rail project will create up to 400,000 permanent jobs. Construction of Japan's vaunted bullet train began in the mid-1960s, and it did not generate higher economic growth or additional jobs, according to the study. Written by Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast, the study said there may be other justifications for bullet train service between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the $68-billion project as an engine of economic growth "will have only a marginal impact at best.
THE818NOW
April 24, 2012
The state rail authority has grossly underestimated future operating costs of California's proposed bullet train, meaning taxpayers potentially will have to provide billions of dollars annually once the system is running, according to an analysis released Monday by a group of outside financial experts. The California High Speed Rail Authority's claim that its future system would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses is based on unrealistic assumptions about what it will cost to operate the network, according to the study group, which included former World Bank official William Grindley and Stanford University management professor Alain C. Enthoven.
THE818NOW
April 23, 2012
The car salesman offers you a sleek new luxury model for $33,000. Go for it, you think. Time for an upgrade. Sold. Oops, the sales guy says later. Those numbers won't pencil. We'll need $98,000. You're stunned and outraged. Tell you what, the dealer counters. We'll let ya have it for $68,000 and take off some options. Take the car and shove it, you tell him. Can't afford it. Don't need it. You're entitled to do that - back out of a car deal before taking delivery.
THE818NOW
April 19, 2012
The plan to build a bullet train has so many funding uncertainties and so many other details that remain unclear that the state should delay any decision this year to commit billions of dollars to the project, the nonpartisan research branch of the Legislature recommended Tuesday. The tough advice came on the day before two key legislative committees are to examine the plan and an accompanying request by Gov. Jerry Brown for funding to start a $6-billion construction segment in the Central Valley.
THE818NOW
April 12, 2012
Responding to an outpouring of criticism from Orange County business, civic and political leaders, California's bullet train agency reversed itself Thursday and voted to pursue a direct service link to Anaheim in the project's initial phase. The commitment came as the California High Speed Rail Authority board, meeting in San Francisco, adopted a crucial $68-billion business plan for the controversial project. When a revised, less expensive version of the plan was released last month, it called for initial southbound service to stop at Los Angeles' downtown Union Station, foregoing long-promised, continuous service to the Orange County area near Disneyland and Angels Stadium.  As an alternative, state officials had said Anaheim-bound travelers could change to Metrolink or Amtrak trains, which would provide improved service on current routes.
THE818NOW
April 5, 2012
The bullet train boondoggle is looking more like a bullet bull's-eye. But one big question lingers: Where are the bucks? And even if the state can find the bucks, should it spend them on building a high-speed rail line, a cool choo-choo? Especially when higher education in California is such a train wreck? Education - kindergarten through college - should be our No. 1 priority, for both moral and economic reasons. Producing an educated, skilled workforce for the increasingly competitive global economy is even more important than creating temporary track-laying jobs.
THE818NOW
April 2, 2012
The agency overseeing California's high-speed rail project reportedly plans to reduce the projected cost of the bullet train by $30 billion by connecting it with existing rail lines on the outskirts of Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Critics say the revised plan would not create the system that voters were promised when they approved $9 billion in public funding four years ago to get the project started. That plan was to allow passengers to ride without any transfers between the two metropolitan centers - at a total cost of $43 billion.
THE818NOW
March 26, 2012
A series of concessions over the last year to quiet opposition to the California bullet train has created a potentially lethal problem: the revised blueprint for the system may violate requirements locked into state law when voters approved funding for the project in 2008. The Legislature packed the law with an unusual number of conditions intended to reassure voters, protect the project from later political compromises and ensure that it would not end up a bankrupted white elephant.
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