Financial analyst William Grindley presented his latest study to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board at its January 15, 2019 meeting. On behalf of the people of California and the United States, he argues yet again that this project – the costliest infrastructure project in human history – is a waste of money and needs to be terminated, immediately.
The new study is If You Build It, They Will Not Come – The Sequel – The Findings and Consequences of Competitive Analyses of HSR Versus Auto and Air Travel – 2029-2040. It debunks the claims of the California High-Speed Rail Authority about future ridership – and future revenue.
Mr. Grindley (with coauthor William Warren) makes a reasonable assumption that the Authority chooses to ignore: Californians (even California state legislators) will continue to drive or fly between California cities, rather than taking high-speed rail, if driving or flying takes less time and costs less, which it does on the vast majority of high-speed rail routes.
Using CHSRA data and mathematical formulas, Grindley and Warren analyzed three-fourths of all travel routes possible on the future rail system for the first operational segment (140 routes) and possible for Phase 1 (an additional 180 routes). Their calculations show that only one of those high-speed rail routes would have total travel time and total travel cost that are less than flying or driving: the route between Gilroy and Palmdale. Based on these results, Mr. Grindley concludes that the Authority’s estimates for ridership are five times higher than what would be expected if people make rational transportation decisions based on the time and cost of travel.
They also consider the claims of Silicon Valley high-speed rail promoters that people will use the bullet train to commute between homes in the Central Valley and workplaces in Silicon Valley. Mr. Grindley calculates travel times and concludes the proposed high-speed rail link is absurd and connecting the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train with high-speed rail at Merced is even more absurd.
What we’ll get for $100 billion are higher fares, longer travel times, and government subsidies a few riders for a poorly thought out travel mode.
The New Report by Grindley and Warren: If You Build It, They Will Not Come – The Sequel – The Findings and Consequences of Competitive Analyses of HSR Versus Auto and Air Travel – 2029-2040