LA Times continues on with the mighty tradition of journalistic opinion today:
a) find some material that seems to hold an opposite opinion of yours;
b) do not waste your precious time actually reading that material;
b) write Op-Ed reacting what you think the material says, and
c) then go ahead to publish it to great applause from your choir.
Thus this Op-Ed appeared in the LA Times a few days ago: Keeping California’s Bullet Train on Track.
California’s proposed bullet train took another shot this week when an independent review panel issued a report concluding that the project wasn’t financially viable. This followed negative reviews from the state auditor, the inspector general, the legislative analyst and the UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.
Ok, that’s just dumb. The Op-Ed goes on to be even fluffier. But let’s start with the point that:
Infrastructure projects aren’t movies.
There’s no Ebert-style Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down in these reports.
Let’s take them one by one, going backwards.
UC Berkeley ITS did not say “Cancel the project.” Nope. They said the method for forecasting ridership wasn’t particularly sound or state-of-the-art. And that we should revisit those ridership figures. OOOOooooo! A negative review! Clearly meant to KILL OUR WONDERFUL TRAIN!!!
The Legislative Analyst’s office’s problem in two reports, boils to that, without further commitment from California taxpayers or the state legislature, the train we are building puts the state on the hook for running the train in a small-market area of the state for an indefinite period. MEAN MEAN MEAN! HOW CAN THEY BE SO MEAN AND NOT LOVE OUR TRAIN?
The Inspector General noted, like the great big meany mean pants that they are, that the California High Speed Rail Authority should clean up its act and stop handing out million-dollar contracts to their buddies without proper documentation. BUT DON’T THOSE PEOPLE LOOOOOVE OUR TRAIN? WHY SHOULDN’T THE CALHSR AGENCY JUST SPEND MONEY WITHOUT OVERSIGHT SINCE THEY ARE GOING GET US OUR WONDERFUL TRAIN?
The Peer Review Committee mainly just echoed the points made by the Legislative Analyst’s office: that is, unless we find more money to build service to the large market areas of the state, we’re going to have a Central Valley train that will have trouble posting revenues to cover its operating costs. WILL THE HATERS NEVER CEASE HATING?
Nobody, not one, said “kill the train.”
This project has always been more imperiled by the fuzzy brains of its friends than the harsh words of its supposed enemies.
How about this: if the Central Valley link is going to make money hand over fist, then float revenue bonds rather than general obligation bonds. Simple change. Then we’ll have a market test of how sound the business plan and whether those pointy-headed experts are so wrong about these financial issues.
But then it’s easier to shadowbox with pretend enemies than actually deal with real financial problems.