Back during the campaign the Media News Group were among the most die-hard HSR deniers. Their editorials were usually full of misinformation but that didn't stop them from crusading against a badly needed piece of 21st century infrastructure.
So it comes as no surprise that they're still trying to kill high speed rail, Prop 1A's passage be damned, as seen in Monday's editorial. And as usual they're not above lying to make their case.
California's high-speed rail boondoggle is a case in point. True, voters did back a $9.95 billion bond measure to provide seed money for the $44 billion project. But there is no good reason for the federal government to toss in more money for a highly flawed adventure.
There is no real business plan for the rail system. There are no realistic estimates of ridership, operating costs, capital outlays or total financing.
No business plan?! The new business plan has been available for weeks, including the voluminous source documentation. It includes ridership estimates, operating costs, and financing estimates. But hey, what are a few facts when you have some lies to tell your readers?
We suspect that there is no accurate estimate of the total cost of the rail system. If it is like other big state construction projects, the cost could be way higher than the current $44 billion estimate.
What "other big state construction projects" are these? Of course the editorial doesn't name them, because facts just get in the way - inconvenient truths don't make for good attacks on rail, I guess.
The real motivation for the editorial is to try and deny HSR any federal stimulus money, or any federal money at all:
Perhaps the board is beginning to understand that private investment in a project with no business plan or chance of turning a profit is not likely anytime soon. So why not get in line for a chunk of stimulus money?
Let's hope those handing out tens of billions of dollars of federal taxpayer funds have more common sense than supporters of the high-speed rail system.
California could use stimulus funds in the form of public works financing. But there are other far more worthy projects, such as the BART extension to Santa Clara County.
Private investors remain interested but we must be realistic - the financial and credit crisis is crippling ALL investment activity across the economy no matter what the project, so an increased level of federal support is now necessary. That crisis isn't going to last forever and when it eases high speed rail will be one of the most attractive investments in the country, ensuring long-term returns while providing economic growth through sustainable mass transit.
Media News Group would like to pit HSR and BART against each other but they work best in concert - what better way to ensure high ridership on the San José extension than to have BART meet the HSR line at Diridon Station, ensuring that East Bay travelers have the best possible connection to the HSR line and the rest of the state (short of having an actual HSR route themselves, of course)?
This editorial, for all its misinformation, is a good reminder that we will have to work hard in 2009 to ensure that we get our federal funding. HSR deniers may still be casting about for ways to stay relevant but I can assure that before long, they'll have their sights firmly fixed on Congress.