Clear priorities

The creation of a high-speed train between northern and southern California is a project that is both laudable and progressive. However, if then Proposition 1A was not sufficiently clear at the time in 2008, things are even more confusing today.

Last Tuesday, California’s legislative analyst estimated that the train’s construction will take more than two decades and cost between $99 billion to $118 billion. This is a drastic increase from the $40 billion that was calculated in the original ballot initiative approved by the voters.

The analysis also indicated that the project would need to depend upon sources for funds that were “highly speculative,” which gives an even more tenuous tone to the project.

From the outset, we were worried about the cost of this initiative. We have even more doubts about the strengths of the idea now that we know that over $12 million has been spent just on PR to gain support for the high-speed train. We also know the train’s first stage will be between Fresno and San Bernadino, which has little relevance for the transport of riders.

Today we are more concerned about the impact on Californians of allocating billions of dollars to this project at a time of our state’s budget crisis. The legislative analyst warned that the necessary inversion of $6 billion would be the at the cost of education, social services and other transportation projects.

We believe in progress and in the value of high speed transportation, but the promised future can’t be at the expense of the present in terms of the most vulnerable in their time of need, nor at the expense of the future of students in our schools, colleges and public universities. The priority in people must be clear.