California High-Speed Rail Approved

On Friday the California state Senate approved $8 billion to fund the first segment of the bullet train from Southern California to San Francisco.

“I think what we did today is going to be seen over many years as a turning point in California,” Democratic State Senate President Darrell Steinberg said.

The vote was close — 21-16, with critics saying the project, which will eventually cost $70 billion, is too costly.

“This bill is spending money we just simply don’t have here in California,” said Republican State Senator Tony Strickland.

The train promises to get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes at speeds upwards of 220 mph. That’s impressive, but an airplane gets you there in less than an hour.

There is only one way this makes sense — if the train fare is substantially lower than plane fare. After spending $70 billion, it is unlikely that discount fares will be offered.

This seems like a colossal waste of money, especially at a time when the state is in serious financial straits. I’m all for building for the future, but this just seems like an unnecessary project.

The money could better be spent on regional transportation projects. Here in Los Angeles, for example, they could build several more lines to connect to the $9 billion Wilshire subway. This way that line would actually be useful and part of a comprehensive system with North-South connections instead of a relatively useless sole East-West line.

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