California's speedy train to bankruptcy (WSJ Excerpt)
Thomas J Umberg, the chairman of the state of California High Speed Rail Authority recently claimed in the Wall Street Journal that the proposed LA-San Francisco HSR line could cover its costs "just as every high-speed rail system around the world does." (WSJ 2011-06-06)
Rarely has a state official provoked a more crushing response.
Excerpts from transport economists Alain Entoven, William Grindley and William Warren (WSJ 2011-06-13):
"…That flies in the face of multiple sources of evidence.
"In May of 2009 Iñaki Barrón de Angoiti, director of high-speed rail at the International Union of Railways, said, 'Only two routes in the world—between Tokyo and Osaka, and between Paris and Lyon—have broken even.'
"In December 2009 the U.S. Congressional Research Service said: 'Typically, governments have paid the construction costs, and in many cases have subsidized the operating costs as well.'
"In July 2010 a World Bank report cautioned that governments planning high-speed rail systems 'should also contemplate the near-certainty of copious and continuing budget support for the debt.'
"In May 2011 the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, said: 'There is no high-speed passenger rail system in the world that operates without significant government assistance…'
"Mr. Umberg might ask the authority's staff why the latest (2009) Business Plan asked for a 'revenue guarantee' (aka subsidy) five times." END LETTER
Umberg is a lawyer - and described by his firm as a "Super Lawyer" and selected as one of "The Best Lawyers in America."
It is obviously a profession with a sense of humor.