Farewell to the California Bullet Train

February 15, 2019

by John McClaughry

The crowning dream of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s last term as governor was the great bullet train to whisk Californians from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under three hours. This was Brown’s leading contribution to the fight against climate change. Now Brown is retired – finally – from office, and his very green, liberal successor, Gavin Newsom, took a fresh look at what has grown from a $33 billion project to over $80 billion, and pulled the plug.

The state rail authority has spent more than $5 billion acquiring and destroying hundreds of properties but not yet laid tracks. Taxpayers have lost patience, and Gov. Newsom stated the obvious when he said that “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA.” He says he’ll complete the 160 mile section from Bakersfield to Merced, far out in the central valley, but added “don’t call it the train to nowhere.” Not very convincing.

What the people out in the Valley want is not a high speed train, but irrigation water. The state has curtailed water to Valley farms to protect the Delta Smelt.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized that “California’s bullet train provides a miniature model of the Green New Deal. Alas, the main reason liberals like Mr. Newsom are likely turning against it is they are eager to redirect taxpayer money to entitlements and other green largesse.”

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Thaddeus Cline February 16, 2019 at 1:45 am

For some unknown reason beyond any comprehension you seem not to know that it’s less then 12 -10 years that all know scientists in the field of climate change and it’s implications say we are all f word ed . What planet is you live on ? 5,000 plus seem to work all day everyday just lying to you and me I take it ?
We literally have a Comit coming at us that will destroy not just you but your kids and grandkids for sure . And you fall for fossil fuels companies bull. The comet is call methane and carbon and it’s headed right for you . Why is our navy base in Virginia going under water ? You got an idea how that’s not happening? They sure would like to know what you know so what they see it will go away .
Guess who will be called a fossil soon by there kids and grandkids. It won’t be “ ya and what did you and the dinosaurs do . It will be “why were you as stupid as them .”
What exspence is it you have put on your wrong idea have you not done ? What part of the Alps don’t have ice sheets on them anymore, what idea that ice sheets bigger then State’s are not missing already ? We made up what you can’t see for your self I take it .
It takes all day 8 hours to fly over Siberia. Where the tundra has kept the earth frozen for millions of years and yet you fail to see the mud , the plants , and the water that’s there now ? If you can’t belive science than who’s made pictures for you to see . The airlines I take it. ? Oh I get it the tax you pay for education in this state means you don’t have the money to fly over . So it’s a win win for you keep everyone uneducated and be sure no one sees what’s plain as the nose on your face .


Deanne February 16, 2019 at 4:14 am

I’m so disappointed… I just heard the other day that within ten (10) years, there were going to be trains going all over the world – even across the Pacific Ocean, to take the place of flying – maybe driving too(?). If California is giving up on this little railroad, what will it mean for all the railroads that are supposed to get us anywhere in the world we need to go?

Do you suppose AOC has heard this news yet…? 😉

Maybe California could start accepting donations from the green new deal supporters.

I wonder how many people in California lost their homes or land to eminent domain for a railroad that now won’t even be built.


mike February 16, 2019 at 2:02 pm

They didn’t label Brown Moonbeam for no good reason. Last I read that now that the bullet train project has been stopped in it’s tracks (no pun intended) and funding is drying up, the folks in Sacremento now have to figure out where to find money to build the trains to run on shorter version.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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