CA’s High-Speed Rail to Nowhere: 7-Hour ‘Slog’ of Transfers, Ending in a Bus Ride


The total project cost of the California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) is now projected at $113 billion. By the end of the decade, they will have completed 164 miles and only completed 117 miles so far. It’s a train to nowhere, but in the future, there will be the availability of lots of transfers to conventional trains, and it will end in a bus ride.

Name a bigger boondoggle than CAHSR. Billions over budget. Decades behind. They don’t even have all of the land secured for the current nowhere-to-nowhere segment. It will take about a 100 years to complete, but it provides union jobs at federal taxpayer expense.

“It’s insanity,” says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. “People won’t drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?” ~ May, 2012

The drive from San Francisco to LA is five hours, and you can now substitute it with a seven-hour “slog and end up on a bus. GPS says it takes 140 hours to walk the distance, so it’s better than walking.

The goal is to have the Central Valley interim operating segment from Merced to Bakersfield open by the decade’s end. Work on subsequent segments into SF and LA will begin as more funding is available.

On the upside, by 2030, the gazillion-dollar CAHSR will enable you to flee Merced or Bakersfield like a bat out of hell. On the downside, the only places you can go on CAHSR will be Bakersfield or Merced, which has nothing but farms. They have a nice prison in Bakersfield.

“The initial segment of the proposed California high-speed passenger train system – from south of Merced to north of Bakersfield in the Central Valley – may be the only part of the vaunted system that’s ever built, warns a new report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. ~ May 2012

They haven’t even secured the land they need to proceed.

Wait until you hear about the non-contiguous sections of track that add up to just enough to meet the requirement for miles of track construction needed to keep the federal railroad grant money. (The track can’t connect because the CAHSR doesn’t own the land between sections.)

The electric train will eat up 5% of the state’s current total demand.

The California High-Speed Rail or CAHSR will have lots of confusing transfers.

The San Francisco Examiner detailed the plans (highlight is mine):

In other words, the Merced station will serve as CAHSR’s gateway to Northern California, connecting high-speed trains to conventional trains bound for Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and other cities across the region. There would also be buses to Yosemite.

Once CAHSR’s initial operating segment in the Central Valley is complete, it will be possible to take a conventional train from the Bay Area or Sacramento to Merced, where you could transfer to a high-speed train. From there, in about 1½ hours, you’d be in Bakersfield.

The situation on the other end of the high-speed line wouldn’t be as smooth, at least not initially. After arriving in Bakersfield, riders would need to take a bus the final two hours to Los Angeles. The drive from Bakersfield to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo is about 2½ hours.

It would still be a slog, but the introduction of high-speed rail in the Central Valley would cut down considerably on travel time between the Bay Area and Southern California. The train and bus journey from Oakland to Los Angeles, currently about 8 hours and 40 minutes, would decline to about 7 hours with smooth transfers. In addition, trains are expected to run twice as frequently once the initial leg of high-speed rail is up and running.

They don’t have the land secured yet after all these years:

In the meantime, CAHSR is working to finalize remaining regulatory approvals. On Aug. 17 and 18, the CAHSR Board will vote to certify the final environmental impact report on the San Francisco to San Jose project section, which will be shared with electrified Caltrain service.

The project still faces numerous challenges at every turn, including on the Peninsula. Millbrae has already filed suit against CAHSR’s proposed station there, and Brisbane is threatening to sue regarding a planned 100-acre light maintenance facility within its city limits.

It’s still the train to nowhere.

It will not only end up costing about a hundred billion dollars but it will require from-now-to-eternity subsidies like Amtrak because it has no chance of being profitable.

~LA Times, 2012

Here is why this train exists at all:

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