Senator Gaines Calls High Speed Rail Legendary Waste of Taxpayer Money

SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, today criticized California’s High Speed Rail (HSR) during a special informational hearing on the recently released High Speed Rail Authority’s (HSRA) business plan.

“This project will push California over the fiscal cliff and it will be a legendary waste of taxpayer money if it goes forward as currently planned,” said Gaines.

State law requires the HSRA to submit a business plan to the Legislature by January 1, 2012 and every two years afterwards. The HSRA had submitted earlier business plans to the Legislature in 2008 and 2009. This draft was particularly troubling to Senator Gaines.

“The news could not be worse. This plan barely resembles the original story sold to voters in 2008. Costs have skyrocketed and there is no way taxpayers can be on the hook for this massive bait and switch. Especially when the state has 12-percent unemployment and families are struggling just to make ends meet.”

Original estimates for the project were to have an 800-mile rail system completed by 2020 at a cost of roughly $40 billion. The new business plan estimates completion costs to nearly triple, at up to $118 billion and completion in 2034. The plan also revised ridership and revenue projections sharply downward, drawing into question claims of self-sufficiency for HSR, and admitted that there were no outside financial commitments to help finance the project.

“We can’t afford to endlessly subsidize the most expensive green vanity project of all time,” said Gaines. “Moving forward, I suggest we work to identify private sources of funding for this project, so taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill. Their dollars are better spent on our schools, public safety, or more effective infrastructure projects.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento and Sierra counties.