Editorial: California rail is wasting billions

California is building an 119-mile bullet train route that was supposed to cost $6,000,000,000.00.

Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, it is going to cost $10,600,000,000.00.

This could be one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the nation. And it is turning into one of the biggest “money pits.”

Trains are 19th Century technology. Passenger train service generally only exists because it has a government subsidy.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrats who control the Legislature promised that this would be a boon for the state and it would be cost effective.

Cost overruns are normal for these types of projects and there is a good chance the state will run out of money and the line won’t get completed.

The problems include the high cost of land acquisition, utility relocation costs, very expensive safety barriers, environmental concerns and others.

Management described the situation as a “worst-case scenario.”

And the project is being paid for with borrowed money (bonds). Brown will surely seek more bonding to make up for a part of the shortfall.

Officials who have scoffed at criticism of the project are now admitting they were wrong.

“When it comes to large infrastructure investments, it is not unusual for public authorities trying to justify their effort to understate the costs and overstate the benefits,” said James Moore, director of the transportation engineering program at USC.

What’s the lesson for Oklahoma?

First, passenger rail service will cost more than is projected. Secondly, the state shouldn’t be expanding programs with a budget shortfall. Thirdly, if passenger rail service were viable, the private sector would take care of it.