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January 19, 2012 - 7:44am

Today's Poll: Do you support construction of a high-speed rail line across NY?

posted by Howard B. Owens in polls.
Doug Yeomans
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No, negative, not a chance.

terry paine
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At the time of this post, 210 well intentioned people think this is something that they would support.

Since its obvious that the money to finance this project will have to be borrowed (if its not obvious, the fed is asking to borrow another $1,200,000,000,000.00 just to pay their current expenses). A simple cost analysis shows that the rail system will have to generate $674,533.00 per day just to pay a 30yr loan at 3% interest. This daily cost does not include the overhead or operating costs. Divide the number of passengers you think will ride this train per day and you come up with the ticket price per passenger (then add what you think the operating cost would be per ticket).

Mike Grosshans
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Sure, I'm all for it... PROVIDED it will be paid by cutting Education, Medicare, Medicaid, EPA, NEA, OBAMAcare 2...

As a country we are $15 TRILLION from being just flat broke. Our federal income taxes are a mere minimum payment against Uncle Sam's credit card debt.

Ed Gentner
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Those with the above mindset have in the past opposed the following wates of the taxpayers monies on infrastructure improvements such as, the Erie Canal, the inter-state highway system, public schools, the trans-continental railroads. It is time to invest in America, the improvements to infrastucture creates jobs, brings long-term economic growth and prosperity. The notion that the country is broke is non-sense, and the outright opposition to putting our resources into investing in America is Un-American. It's time to force corporations that have done so well exporting American jobs and American industry to pay back into the system.

Billie Owens
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What about the existing roads, highways and bridges that are crumbling, no longer able to meet safety standards? Don't we have an obligation to maintain what's already been built before taking on more debt to build something new? Would we be able to maintain something new like high-speed rail? If so, with what?

Howard B. Owens
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A country that is $14 trillion in debt can't afford to take a flier on a wager for which there is no empirical data to support the need for it or whether it will be used.

John Woodworth JR
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"The notion that the country is broke is non-sense, and the outright opposition to putting our resources into investing in America is Un-American."

Have you locked yourself in the closet since 1940? You must be another liberal who believes Obama has done such a tremendously great job in strengthening our economy and we have all this money to make and spend. We are so rich that we are in debt to China. We are not going broke because, Congress and the House of Representatives are able to agree on a budget to keep the government going and that government employees do not need a raise. (Very Sarcastic)

Tell me Ed hows not investing in another debt collecting project (High Speed Train) un-American? I do not support it so, am I un-American? Piss off on that, I risk my life everyday for 23 years and I am still going protecting America. Investing in a High Speed Train is not going to improve our economy. As far as creating more jobs, how long before they are back on the unemployment line because, the company that established the high speed train is going into bankruptcy? What kind of jobs will it create and bring to Genesee County? If, the train is only planning to stop in Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, do you honestly believe it is going to bring jobs or businesses here? Why do liberals bitch about republicans spending, when they are just as irresponsible if not more?

Mark Potwora
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They have no proof that rider ship will increase by on single person, There is a good chance that it will cost more than it does now...So it will have to be subsidized ,costing more taxpayer dollars..In the mean time our taxes goes up for ,roads and bridges they won't fix.......Take the money they waste on the Erie canal,Drain it and lay the tracks in there...They only use the canal for part of the year,the other part is for a few boaters who use it in the summer

John Roach
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Ed,
They don't even know who will run and/or own it.

John Woodworth JR
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I know this refers to California but, interesting reading.

New doubts about bullet train
Experts say promoters inflated estimates of the cost of providing alternatives if the rail system isn't built.

Rendering of proposed California high speed rail station. (California High Speed Rail Authority)
January 17, 2012|Ralph Vartabedian and Dan Weikel
As the price tag for California's bullet train has soared to nearly $100 billion, a central argument for forging ahead with the controversial project is an even loftier figure: the $171 billion that promoters recently estimated will be needed for new roads and airports if no high-speed rail is built.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Parsons Brinckerhoff: An article in the Jan. 17 LATExtra section about cost estimates developed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority identified a consultant as Parsons Brinkerhoff. The New York-based firm's name is spelled Parsons Brinckerhoff. Also, the firm is not connected to Pasadena's Parsons Corp.

Without a fast-rail network, they warn, the state would have to add 2,300 miles of highway and roughly the equivalent of another Los Angeles International Airport to handle a projected surge in future travel.
Now, that alternative is coming under attack by a state-appointed panel of experts, who will soon release an assessment of the rail project's business plan and cast doubt on the accuracy and validity of the $171-billion figure, The Times has learned.
Already, transportation researchers, government officials and watchdog groups are saying the $171-billion claim is based on such exaggerated estimates, misleading statements and erroneous assumptions that it is "divorced from any reality."
"There is some dishonesty in the methodology," said Samer Madanat, director of UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies, the top research center of its type in the nation. "I don't trust an estimate like this."
Until November, California High-Speed Rail Authority officials were asserting that the alternative cost of highway and airport construction would be $100 billion. Earlier predictions were billions lower. When the estimate for the bullet train project recently hit $98.5 billion, the authority ratcheted the highway and airport cost up to $171 billion.
The price of alternatives is a central part of the authority's rationale for building the high-speed rail network, along with jobs and possible environmental benefits. The bullet train is aimed at meeting future transportation needs of the state, which cannot be economically met with highways and airports, the authority says.
"If anything, we underestimated the costs of alternatives to high-speed rail," said Dan Richard, an authority board member who is in line to become the group's chairman. "Expanding freeways and then maintaining them is not a free alternative."
Outside transportation experts say, however, that rail consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff's methodology is so flawed the entire claim should be disregarded.
"The rail authority's analysis does not account for the roadway and airport work investment that will be required both with and without high speed rail," the Orange County Transportation Authority told the rail agency in a letter late last year. In November, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office questioned the study as well, saying the $171-billion estimate is not what the state would otherwise spend to address intercity transportation demand.
The city of Burlingame, which is near San Francisco International Airport, weighed in too. "The astounding figure is completely divorced from any reality over the next 50 years," city officials wrote urging the authority to stop using the number. Madanat said the rail authority has rebuffed offers to have UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis, which have among the top five university transportation departments in the nation, help analyze the bullet-train system.
Instead, the rail authority has relied heavily on New York-based Parsons Brinkerhoff, a contractor that helped fund the political campaign for the $9.9-billion bond measure passed by voters in 2008. Although the rail authority has more than two dozen employees, Parsons controls 108 people working on the project.

"You have a tremendous conflict of interest," said Elizabeth Goldstein Alexis, co-founder of the watchdog group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design. "You can't see where the authority ends and the private consultants begin because they are so intertwined. It is extraordinary the institutional conflicts of interest that exist all over this project."
But Richard defended Parsons' role, saying, "They performed the analysis, which was an honest and realistic estimate of the project's costs -- not a policy justification of the project." He added that the alternative analysis represents a standard way that transportation projects are evaluated.
Nonetheless, Parsons does not answer the question of how much high-speed rail would reduce future investments in roads, public transit and airports, which other experts say is a more relevant guide to its value.
Caltrans predicts that traffic on Interstate 5 and California 99 in the Central Valley will double over the next 25 years. But agency officials say they have not scaled back plans to make highway improvements in the state's agricultural heartland because of the high-speed rail project. Not until the rail system is built and actually reduces traffic on both roads would Caltrans adjust its investment strategy, officials said.
In October, Parsons submitted the analysis that came up with the $171 billion, a number that initially appeared in the authority's draft business plan released Nov. 1. In the study, Parsons first estimated how much passenger capacity the system would have at completion in 2033 and then calculated the cost for providing the same airport and highway capacity.
Parsons said the high-speed rail system could carry 116 million passengers a year, based on running trains with 1,000 seats both north and south every five minutes, 19 hours a day and 365 days a year. The study assumes the trains would be 70% full on average.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Parsons Brinckerhoff: An article in the Jan. 17 LATExtra section about cost estimates developed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority identified a consultant as Parsons Brinkerhoff. The New York-based firm's name is spelled Parsons Brinckerhoff. Also, the firm is not connected to Pasadena's Parsons Corp.

But nobody, including the rail authority, expects the bullet train would actually carry that many people in the foreseeable future. It estimates the system will actually carry between 30 million and 44 million passengers per year by 2040. If those ridership numbers were used to calculate alternative highway and airport requirements, as suggested by Madanat and others, it could actually be cheaper than the bullet train.
Parsons Brinkerhoff defended the use of capacity rather than projected ridership, saying that high-speed rail systems are investments with a 50- to 100-year life and therefore they have useful lives that go well beyond any ridership forecast.
The ridership assumption is just one example of the controversy with the estimate. The analysis disregards current unused capacity and scheduled investments that will absorb some future growth.
Airports, such as Ontario, LAX, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose, have room for tens of millions of new passengers, and three former Air Force bases in the L.A. area could become prime candidates for future commercial airline operations. Much of the state's rural interstate system is not congested either.
"All you get are selling points from the authority," said Burlingame Mayor Jerry Deal, who supports the idea of high-speed rail but questions the current project.
"I want information that is as close to reality as possible, but we don't seem to get that."

terry paine
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Ed, check out this video. It uses humor to explain the financial situation pretty good.
After you watch it explain to me how we're not broke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li0no7O9zmE&feature=share

John Woodworth JR
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That's awesome, lmao!

Jeff Allen
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Ed, there is no way you can compare high speed rail to the Erie Canal, the inter-state highway system, and the trans-continental railroads. These were built during times of great economic growth and expansion. The need already existed and was just waiting to be filled by the projects. They were huge undertakings and a source of pride in our American ingenuity, but they weren't gambles. Our economy is shrinking, and this project does not depend on an existing need for industrial support, it depends on the hope of tourism and individual business travel. In case you haven't noticed, both businesses and citizens are leaving New York State.
"If you build it, they will come" is an idea that just doesn't work in our modern New York State economy.

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