What Charles Manson and HSR have in common…

I noted in my last post that the CalHSR’s proposal was to construct from Fresno to Corcoran. Corcoran has a population of about 26,000 people, but I forgot to point out that about half of those residents are guests of the state of California, and thus unlikely to ride the HSR: prisoners in the two penitentiaries. One of the largest industries in Corcoran is corrections, and it is home to the California State Prison and the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison.

Charles Manson currently lives at the California State Prison, Corcoran.

(If you value your sanity, don’t do the math on providing HSR to a place with 26,000 people, 13,000 of whom are not actually supposed to leave, ever. Conceivably, the station would also draw riders from the Madera region, which has about 150,000 people, which is still too few people to justify a station. )

Given that the new narrative around HSR is that it will prompt economic development in the Central Valley, these population figures rather got me thinking: it would probably be cheaper to send every man, woman, and child in Fresno, Madera, and Corcoran (not including prisoners) a check for $5K than it will be to build the HSR there. For a family of four, that’s $20K. If I were them, I’d hold out for that.

A sleeper of an HSR story: The Feds insist on Bakersfield

Ok, I am perhaps confused about what’s really going on–as there have been a lot of announcements about CalHSR here recently–but either I’m crazy, or this announcement from the Feds is a waaaaay bigger deal for California than anybody has noticed so far.

Here’s the story from Bakersfield.com: Feds Insist that the first leg of bullet train reach to Bakersfield. The additional $816 million is contingent on a commitment to get the train there.

So….my understanding of what the CalHSR promised to with the first leg was that it go from Fresno (population 505,000–HSR to Des Moines!) to Corcoran (population 25,600–no comment). Corcoran is located with the red arrow on the little Google map I’ve pasted together.

Now, Corcoran is about 50 or so miles away from Fresno. Bakersfield is about 100 miles.

Does that strike anybody as being…well, at lot farther? Why isn’t anybody besides me….concerned about the Feds holding out?

I kind of think this move puts California on the hook for a lot more money. Or a really pared down project. Or…?