‘A Day Late And $100 Billion Short’: California Bullet Train Is Literal Money Pit For Taxpayers

Imagine living in a state where its governor and state legislative officials decided to spend more than $3.1 million per day to construct a bullet train. Then, imagine the train’s construction falling 11 years behind schedule and its managers saying they need an additional $100 billion to meet a new 2033 deadline.

If you live in California, this is your reality.

As the LA Times reports, California’s bullet train was estimated in 2008 to cost taxpayers in the state $33 billion. At the time, the train was expected to reach from Sacramento to San Diego by 2020.

Ten years later and the project now aims to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2033. The trip is expected to take two hours and 40 minutes.

And, now, the train management is needing to spend $100 billion to meet an upcoming deadline; “California’s money pit cost taxpayers $3.1 million a day last year. But that’s small potatoes compared to what they’ll have to shell out over the next four if they want to meet their deadline and budget, estimated most recently at $100 billion,” reports Fox News.

Here’s more on the train, per CNBC:

A business plan released Friday by the California High-Speed Rail Authority shows its projected baseline cost is now $77 billion — up 20 percent from two years ago — and it indicated the cost could rise to as high as $98 billion. The opening date for the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train has also been delayed by at least four years, to 2033.

“It appears that they are finally bringing forth more realistic cost estimates and a more realistic schedule,” said Stephen Levy, executive director and senior economist with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, a Menlo Park-based research group. “The whole project remains in doubt as the costs increase and the funding gap increases.”

Political uncertainty and opposition to the project have only increased over time.


In addition to the $10 billion in initial bond money state voters approved in 2008, California secured about $3.3 billion in federal stimulus funds in 2009 — and has already burned through about $2.5 billion of that money. Last summer, the state legislature voted to extend California’s cap-and-trade program through 2030, but critics say revenue from the greenhouse gas-emissions reduction program still won’t be enough to fund the high-speed rail project.

Jon Coupal, the president of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, lamented: “It is a horrifically, poorly thought-out project from day one. The original proposal said a third of the money would come from the bonds, a third from the federal government, and a third from the private sector.”

The watchdog group president said private investors do not want to invest in the train so funding “isn’t there since no sane investor would ever put money into this thing, and the federal government cut off the spigot a long time ago. So Governor Brown is relying on the cap-and-trade revenue, although that isn’t generating enough revenue to keep this thing going.”

This California nightmare seemingly has no end as the money-pit bullet train continues to burn through state and federal funding which could have easily found its way into other projects across the state.

San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey said, per Fox News, “This so-called bullet train is a solution in search of a problem that is plagued by billions of dollars in cost overruns and fiscal mismanagement” and that the billions of dollars spent have been all but wasted. The money “could have been invested in our current infrastructure needs, such as water storage, flood control, highways, and bridges.”