That permanent end should have come long ago, as the idea was never viable. Passenger rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is indefensible as a use of taxpayer dollars by nearly every possible measure – most obviously because Louisiana lacks the population density to make such a rail connection even remotely viable.
I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is only a four-lane highway for almost the entire trip, and despite that rather paltry amount of road space you can still most of the time (if you’re lucky) make it in little over an hour. That’s a pretty good indication that there is no unmet need for public transportation between the two cities.
Not to mention that the Megabus service between the two is never full. If you’re not filling up the Megabus, which involves zero taxpayer dollars, then you certainly don’t need hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars’ worth of rail infrastructure to meet a nonexistent need.
California’s wasteful, expensive, and likely doomed-to-fail statewide bullet train project is getting killed. Today, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s abandoning the plan as “too costly.”
Newsom made the announcement in his State of the State address this morning. As the Associated Press reports:
Newsom said Tuesday in his State of the State address it “would cost too much and take too long” to build the line long championed by his predecessor, Jerry Brown. Latest estimates pin the cost at $77 billion and completion in 2033.
Newsom says he wants to continue construction of the high-speed link from Merced to Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley. He says building the line could bring economic transformation to the agricultural region.
And he says abandoning that portion of the project would require the state to return $3.5 billion in federal dollars.
Newsom also is replacing Brown’s head of the board that oversee the project and is pledging to hold the project’s contractors more accountable for cost overruns.
California has a great deal more population density than Southeast Louisiana does. And the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco journey is, as it turns out, the most heavily traveled by air in the entire country. So when California decides to abandon building that rail line because the state recognizes it will never sustain itself against the spiraling, outrageous cost of building that infrastructure, it’s a pretty good indication that a sure-to-be-empty passenger rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans will and should never happen.
We’ve written repeatedly about the folly of this idea. What we hope is we’ll never have to do so again because its proponents simply go away.
That’s not our bet, though. But going further, it’s fairly clear the only people who will push this idea are those who think it’s a good way to grift the public out of our tax dollars. If you’re still talking about “high speed” rail after Newsom’s surrender today, it’s because you’re trying to steal something.