Governor Jerry Brown is pushing ahead with plans for $90 billion to build high speed rail in California, connecting the major population centers of the state, particularly San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Is $90 billion too much in capital costs? Let’s do some math and consider the alternatives.
The entire San Francisco Bay Area has about 7 million residents. That includes babies, old folks, and aging rockers Huey Lewis and Courtney Love.
The airfare from San Francisco to Los Angeles, roundtrip, is currently $110 dollars.
So instead of building high speed rail, the state of California could pay to fly every resident of the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles, and return them to the Bay Area, every single month, for 10 years.
That’s 120 roundtrips for each and every person in the Bay Area – rich or poor, talented or Justin Beeber.
Or, we could fly half of the bay area and half the Los Angeles area each month. Your choice. Or, we could fly the residents of San Francisco proper (not the suburbs) every month for 70 years.
That is of course ridiculous — that’s a waste of taxpayer money. And so, it would seem, is high-speed rail at these price points.