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Brown's bullet train? It's going nowhere with many Times readers

Jerry Brown may not have lost faith in his dream of a bullet train racing across California, but a barrage of grim-news headlines may have been enough to give even the governor pause.

Take this sampling from The Times alone in recent days: “More bullet train questions”; “New bullet train funds sought”; “Bullet train hits snag again.”

In its editorial, “The bullet train’s hazy future,” The Times declared: “This may be the make-or-break year for Californias beleaguered bullet train, and Gov. Jerry Brown is determined to ensure it makes it.”

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But, the editorial adds: “One problem facing Browns proposal is that many Californians are unsympathetic to the project, which has had more than its share of problems.”

No kidding. Letter writers had little positive to say about the high-speed rail plan:

Steve Stonehouse in Calabasas asks pointedly:

“Will this farce never end? Economic data of other trains show no economic benefit (see UCLA study). The cost is already increasing before groundbreaking (see Sepulveda Pass project). Then there is the cost to maintain and run the system, which is unlikely to be self-supporting (see Amtrak). Schools, roads and local transportation need major help, not this misguided daydream.

“Underfunded, under-researched and unneeded. Make it go away.”

For some, it’s about priorities. Douglas Collins of Hermosa Beach observes:

“Brown’s proposal to funnel an additional $250 million to the high-speed rail project is like buying a 90-inch TV on credit while the kids are starving and the house is being foreclosed. He needs to get his priorities in order and forget about his hoped-for legacy.”

Norman Gottlieb of North Hills offers some alternatives:

“Gov. Brown and other advocates of the bullet train should not just give pause for the reasons stated in your editorial; they should stop it altogether. The projected ridership is highly questionable, and rapidly improving technology in cleaner, automated vehicles will make them the preferred choice for point-to-point travel.”

Catherine Vackrinos of Yorba Linda focuses on the practical:

“As a driver in California, I do wish Gov. Brown would, for the time being, forget about the bullet train development and concentrate on giving the funds to Caltrans to repair and improve all roads, streets, highways and freeways…. Its a disgrace that we drivers must bump along just to satisfy some whim of our politicians in Sacramento. How many people will use the bullet train compared to how many of us use all of the byways and highways daily?”

Sometimes it’s a question of basics, as Murray Guidi of Simi Valley sees it:

“How can we let Jerry Brown et al justify spending $67-plus billion for a bullet train when the real issue is lack of water for California? … If we don’t have the water we need to support California, there won’t be any customers around to use the bullet train.”

Murry I. Rozansky of Chatsworth applauds the “glimmer of common sense from The Times” and believes the “talent and resources that could develop the future of transportation exist in California.” But he faults the current plan: “It is like building trolley lines and thinking you have a 21st century transit system.”

The Times defends the concept; as the editorial board maintains: “This page has steadfastly backed the idea of high-speed rail in California. And we still believe it can deliver extraordinary environmental, economic and transportation benefits. Yet the delays, the rising cost, the judge’s ruling and the waning public support should give pause to even the strongest advocates.”

But Bob Munson of Newbury Park isn’t buying The Times’ arguments on the bullet train — or on just about anything else:

“The Times is wrong on abortion, wrong on Edward Snowden, wrong on test scores and teachers, wrong on Obamacare and wrong on L.A. Unified iPads.... The bullet train is a train wreck. Even if my destination were Fresno, I would get there faster door-to-door by auto rather than bullet train.”

And Dallas Weaver of Huntington Beach warns:

“The Times and Jerry Brown’s ‘belief’ about the bullet train’s benefits assumes that the future will be the same as the present.… Going back 50 years to 1964, how many people would have predicted today’s Internet-infused culture and communications systems? … In the foreseeable future, Google-type automated cars will be instantly forming chains of closely spaced cars long before the bullet train is even close to being finished.”


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