This is political blackmail. The project is now more than twice the price what the voters approved, yet construction is continuing on disconnected bits in the easy to build flatness of Central Valley, all to make sure the construction companies and their workers have something to do. What about the environmental impact if the train is never finished? What about moving people out of the way? What about having ugly concrete columns stand for decades within a beautiful region doing nothing? Jobs, jobs, jobs, and money is the answer.
And what about the environmental impact of not building it and instead insisting in expanding highways with a dozen of lanes perpetually gridlocked by countless gas guzzlers?
On a side note, it's really hard to argue against people's limitless imaginations.
In Spain, with 2000 miles worth and another 1200 under construction (making it second only to China in total length), a few of the lines goals were to enable high speed daily commutes from way outside the city limits. It works, at least to some extent, with people from cities up to 150 miles from Madrid commuting in and out daily in 30 - 50 min. Same happens in Japan, afaik. This really opens up densely populated cities with scarce/expensive housing, reducing inflationary pressures that often threaten to damage the local economy.
To me improving the effective housing radius of large metro areas is the crucial ROI any government should be pursuing, be it with rail, hyperloop...
There are a few stops near San Francisco and Los Angeles, but those areas would be better served through improving existing commuter rail, which is slow and has many other issues that limit its usage.
When initially announced many critics stated that the costs would be double if not more and were constantly mocked. However it cannot be ignored that it is not just the cost to build that is important but maintenance will be in the billions. Just the rail systems many cities use across the US have deferred maintenance totaling over one hundred billion dollars combined.
With regards to nations who truly have a lot of established high speed rail, while the average Japanese traveler will have nearly two thousand miles of rail travel only about twenty percent is across high speed rail. When it comes to freight less than fiver percent moves by rail in Japan with the rest by highway and other. In the US over a third of all freight moves by rail versus less than a quarter by road.
tl;dr Politicians love their legacies and reality has little input. heavy rail systems are incredibly expensive to build out and maintain
China is up to almost 16,000 miles of track.
The fact that we’re incapable of building projects like this more affordably must be hurting our economy.
That, and probably the unwillingness to fund public infrastructure projects with tax money. Which, unfortunately, is inevitable with projects of such magnitude.
Well, in America almost everyone has a car and there's a road system that will take you anywhere you want to go
That's not different than any European country, which offers high speed rail (or a dense, interconnected rail system where HSR is not really viable, like Switzerland).
If anything and in my experience roads are usually better maintained in Europe. But that's probably the same problem. Maintenance costs (tax) money and that seems to be a dirty word to a lot of Americans.
In America there's basically 1 car per person, in Europe there's one car per two persons.
The statistics come from different sources and times, but that's what I have to work with and I don't think the true numbers are much different from this.
It's also important to note that the culture in America is quite different in Europe regarding personal space, freedom to drive endlessly and on your own time, and having the place to do these things. Europeans are used to adjusting themselves to the train's schedule, leaving the party because the last train is coming, standing on the platform and waiting for it to arrive, and cancelling plans when the train drivers union decides to go on strike. These things frustrate an American, and that is because cars have been around for about 100 years in America and people have come to expect the freedoms that cars bring them.
this idea has some truth, but ... with higher population densities and traffic, the amount of freedom a private car offers diminishes significantly.
if the rules of the road were changed in California -- if taxes, fees, insurance and fuel costs went high enough, if metered lanes on freeways charged enough, individual car ownership would become much less desirable, even to Americans.
people, even US people, would adapt and the whole system might finally be arranged so that commuters could arrive at work on a reliable time schedule.
At least some of those commuters find the Metro red line to downtown, which runs on a fairly reliable schedule, arrives more quickly and does feel like an experience of freedom, by comparison.
Another non speculative observation: at least some Americans who move to NYC find that selling their car is a liberating experience.
Also, not having a car, is, in some ways a way to gain some freedom: insurance and maintenance burdens decrease, time and effort to park the vehicle are eliminated, etc
IMHO, that's the really interesting story.
In general, in the US, because of the structure of local politics, the bidding process, corporate and union expertise at larding public works projects, delays related to eminent domain disputes, etc these projects are far more expensive than they are in other countries -- even old Western European social democracies like France.
The same argument can be said about roads and ports and airports. Yes, infrastructure requires maintenance. So what?
> With regards to nations who truly have a lot of established high speed rail, while the average Japanese traveler will have nearly two thousand miles of rail travel only about twenty percent is across high speed rail.
I fail to see the relevance of that statement. Yes, nations that have a long railway history still haven't replaced some lines with high-speed lines. So what?
Meanwhile, there are plenty of developed nations that have high-speed railway lines even in old suburban corridors. Yes, people do commute in TGVs every single day. Is that because they are fancy or whimsical? No, because technology has evolved in the past half century so that it's trivial to build a train capable of travelling at over 220km/h and they live in geographically convenient areas where building high-speed lines doesn't involve building many tunnels and bridges.