Dr. Bill Atwood

A losing proposition

Last week there was a letter to the editor of the Fresno Bee from a lady named Bennie that addressed her opinion regarding the high-speed rail that this state is funding. Bennie works in the Bay Area, but after 30-40 years in the real estate business she states she cannot afford the high priced homes in that area. She wants to live in the Madera/Fresno County area. Her solution is that the rest of us fund a multibillion dollar train so that she may live here and work there.

Getting back to Bennie’s solution. The bullet train is an expense we cannot afford. I have written before about the cost incurred in just laying the track on fairly level ground in the Manteca area is costing this state $300 per inch. That is just track, not a train, not one train, simply track. The governor has not explained how he is going to suspend the laws of physics and gravity when his train must pass over the Tehachapis. I can’t see tunneling as that range is prone to earthquakes, and I really can’t envision people willing to ride through miles of tunnels in such an area.

The train folks are promising service to many areas. Do the math. The train departs Bakersfield for Sacramento. That 285-mile trip takes four hours in your car. The folks in Shafter, Delano, Earlimart, Pixley, Tulare, Visailia, Selma, Reedley, Clovis, Fresno, Madera, Chowchilla, Merced, Atwater, Turlock, Ceres, Salida, Manteca, Stockton, Lodi, and Elk Grove all expect service since they are being taxed to support the project.

The 21 cities mentioned, plus the cities of Bakersfield and Sacramento, show the problem. The HSR train will not be able to get up to a fast speed before it must stop at any one of those listed stations. Suppose the train only stops at seven stations and the train folks allow for a 10-minute stopover. That is 70 minutes just sitting in the station. In the 40 miles or so between one stop and another the train will not get to a high speed. The train will probably take three hours to get you there. You saved one hour and don’t have a car to use in Sacramento. Be sure to add in your waiting time in Bakersfield for the train.

Amtrak has proven the railroads knew what they were talking about in the 1970s when they pulled out of passenger service because it’s a losing proposition. The only speedy part of high-speed rail will be the dollars flowing from our pockets to build this, and then to subsidize it once it is running between some towns and not others. However, Bennie wants you and I to cover her transportation costs because her salary/commissions can’t afford her the lifestyle she desires.

Years ago I decided that I did not want to live in the LA area. Teachers make far better salaries there than they earn in this area. I want to live here and so I moved here. I accepted the lower salary as a cost of living in such a fabulous area with you great folks. According to Bennie’s thinking, the state should have funded a transportation system to allow me the privilege of living here and working there.

It isn’t your responsibility to provide me with a ride to work. If Bennie wants to work in the Bay Area she needs to work harder to buy a home near there and not expect us to fund here travels.

She wants a free ride. I don’t want to buy her ticket.