Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Is Adrian Moore Lying in the LA Times?

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

The LA Times is running a "dust up" in its opinion pages - a weeklong discussion of high speed rail between Adrian Moore of the oil company funded Reason Foundation and Dan Tempelis, project manager for the CHSRA on the Palmdale-LA section of the route. It's something of an unfair fight, as Moore is trained to push misleading framing into the media, and Tempelis is a project engineer trained to build things. Tempelis isn't bad at this, but neither is he equipped to undermine the truthiness Moore spews.

Here's an example of Moore's misleading claims:

There are several reasons why high-speed rail does not stack up as the best infrastructure investment we can make today. Let's start with ridership. When high-speed rail systems were built in Europe and Asia, they served corridors that were already very dense and where a large share of travel was already by train -- and there was still no reduction in overall air travel in those corridors. Most riders of high-speed rail were already train riders. The California High-Speed Rail Authority's estimates for the state show that riders will not come from existing trains (there are very few of those) or much from the airlines. Rather, their plan rests on getting people to ride the train rather than drive. Given the more modest gas prices here, the lower density and car culture, to predict that the California high-speed train will get far more riders than systems in Europe and Japan is ridiculously optimistic.

This is a classic example of what Stephen Colbert called truthiniess - this "feels" true even though Moore hasn't provided any evidence. In fact Moore is passing along a huge pile of outright lies.

For example: "and there was still no reduction in overall air travel in those corridors." Um, WTF?

We could go on, but there's more Moore misinformation to correct, like "Most riders of high-speed rail were already train riders." Wrong again. As NARP's Matt Melzer pointed out in July Spain's experience proves that many HSR riders are in fact new train passengers. The images below compare the before and after the inaugural AVE line opened between Madrid and Sevilla in 1992:

Melzer's post also destroys another of Moore's claims, that California lacks the density for HSR, showing that in fact CA and Spain are very comparable on this basis:

Moore's left with lame defenses of California's "car culture" - never mind the fact that Amtrak California intercity routes are setting monthly ridership records. From here Moore moves on to equally truthy claims:

This despite that fact that every other high-speed rail line in the world, all with many advantages over a California system, are subsidized.

Wow. Just...wow. This is a bald-faced lie. In France the situation is reverse - HSR subsidizes all other trains. France alone disproves Moore's lie.

there is no doubt that the high-speed train will need to be subsidized; the Reason Foundation's middling estimate is that it will require about $3 billion per year.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office reported that in the worst-case scenario only $1 billion would be required. This isn't the end of Moore's careless numerology:

Taxpayers should expect the final bill for this train system to be closer to $80 billion.

Moore has NO evidence for this claim. He uses a discredited study to claim there are 45% cost overruns on rail - Angelenos can look to the Metro Gold Line extension to see an on-time, on-budget rail project. Further, if Moore is going to give a specific figure, he needs to explain precisely where the cost overruns will come from and why they will amount to $80 billion. Since he can't, he's merely pulling the numbers out of his ass, an effort to mimic Dr. Evil.

Much of the rest of Moore's argument comes from a discredited Reason Foundation study. It would be nice if more members of the media would challenge this study instead of allow Moore to cite it as if it were gospel.

Dan Tempelis does a good job explaining the economic stimulus benefits of high speed rail and the fiscal safeguards in Prop 1A. But it's an unfair fight, since he's up against someone who will lie to readers to make his points. Yes on 1A advocates need to do a better job pushing back against the bullshit coming out of the Reason Foundation - they are lying to the public and will kill HSR if their lies are not countered.

Sadly that is the story of the 2008 election - lies, lies, lies everywhere. We're dealing with the same problems in the presidential campaign and the fight against Proposition 8. This blog has been consistently willing to debate HSR deniers on the issues. But instead all we get are lies.

If Prop 1A is going to pass, we need to fight back hard against these lies. The official campaign would do well to take a more aggressive tone here.


Anonymous said...

You know Robert you just lessen your credibility with your constant statement "the discredited" Reason Report.

You are just a young history professor, who knows little about the subject that the authors have spent years examining and are by everyones opinion (except yours)are experts.

You have done nothing to be-bunk or discredit the due diligence report. You note the LA Times did not make such a statement did they? Of course, in your mind, they don't know anything either do they?

Adrian Moore, has a PhD in economics, and certainly much more qualified to than you to pass along expert opinion.

BTW, Joseph Vranich, contrary to an innuendo when you asked why he wasn't appointed by a Republican Governor to the CHSRA board, happens to be a life long Democrat.

I expect this to be deleted, but a few might view before you wipe it off.

Anonymous said...

Morris, if that's you, use your real name. By the way, I don't expect Archbishop Bob to wipe your comment, as misguided as it may be.

Bob has repeatedly cited mike's rebuttal of key points of the C-V report. Maybe you and the other deniers ought to look at this rebuttal and comment on it point-by-point instead of merely touting your credentials.
I would have to agree that we "Yes-ers" have been playing too much of a counterstriking game and not attacking enough. Notable figures in this campaign ought to be relentlessly pushing opinion pieces through to newspapers statewide. The last thing we want are the likes of Reed, Moore, Brown and others maintaining a dominating press position.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Morris, you should know that arguments from authority have no merit. Vranich's and Moore's credentials do not have any bearing at all on whether their claims are truthful or not.

We thoroughly debunked that study's core assumptions and debunked Moore's complete BS job in this post - yet you never acknowledge any of this. Must be a nice life you've got there in your high-value Menlo Park home, where you aren't bound by facts and don't have to acknowledge when your arguments have been exposed as baseless.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

LOLZ. A credibility attack from an anonymous poster. I love it when people come to a site expect comments to be scrubbed. It tells me that it's what they would do if they ran a blog. It's hilarious, i know of more anti-transit blogs that scrub or don't allow comments than pro. In fact, I don't know of any pro transit blogs that clip out dissenting comments. Tells you something no?

Rafael said...

"When high-speed rail systems were built in Europe and Asia, they served corridors that were already very dense and where a large share of travel was already by train -- and there was still no reduction in overall air travel in those corridors."

See here for a 2004 study (in French) of the competition between the TGV and airlines in the Paris-Lyon-Marseille corridor. Basically, airlines have lost the Paris-Lyon business to the TGV and are barely competitive between Paris and Marseille.

Adrian Moore is making stuff up.

Brandon in California said...

Darn good post! Perhaps the best I have read here?

There is nothing to fear in the truth. Deniers twist data and non-tangible information to cast a witches brew of miss-information, deceit and hyperbole. Some even lie.

Fortunatley, attentive voters will see right through most of it, if not all. And, readers of editorials and NPR listeners are at-least trying to be attentive. Unfortunately, half of fence-sitters respond to fear-based tactics and blindly act like sheep.

Tony D. said...

When can we expect something, anything, from the Prop. 1A campaign; i.e. mailers, TV commercials, etc? Just under two weeks left! Very few will read the commentary of Moore and make a voting decision based on it. A lot more of us will make our decisions based on advertisements touting the truth. FWIW, I have yet to run into anyone who's voted against Prop. 1A (absentee voters). Most of my family, friends, and co-workers will support the Prop. and high-speed rail. You're right, this naysaying BS needs to be hammered at and hammered hard!

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow,Thursday Oct. 23, the State Senate Transportation and Housing committee is going to have a hearing on mandated business plan for Prop 1A, which the Authority has failed to produce.

It should be interesting. It will be webcast live on the California Channel. Here is a


with some information.

Spokker said...


How the hell can anyone say that high speed rail has not impacted air travel in Europe?

I predict Southwest will seriously consider doing the same in the United States if this measure passes.

"Rather, their plan rests on getting people to ride the train rather than drive."

No it doesn't. By their own accounts they plan to divert about 7 percent of intercity car trips to HSR. The point is to divert ~30 percent of airline trips, which is a pretty good chunk.

The son of a bitch is blatantly lying, and I believe he deserves harsh criticism and even harsher words.

Anonymous said...

Why is he lying?? ..he is being paid by his oil/Rebcons to try as hard has hell to..so it wont ever start and change the way the USA travels. A nation of electric trains would put a big dent in profits..they could give a damm about the enviroment...

Anonymous said...

The Reason Foundation makes a very clever use of Lenin's old maxim: "if a lie is told often enough, it becomes truth". They have succeeded in obliging you to be on the defensive. They are very crafty and know how to impress Joe the Plumber, but you could undercut them. You should take the initiative and send documented arguments to all media, however small or local they may be. Letting deniers publish their fake editorials and then reacting indignantly is a losing tactic.
You have proven data and all they can produce is undocumented assertions, so you should logically be on the winning side. If you manage to disprove and ridicule their arguments in advance, their lie-spreading campaign will be a flop.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:53 wrote:
"I would have to agree that we "Yes-ers" have been playing too much of a counterstriking game and not attacking enough."

I would have to agree. The pro-hsr argument has to be more tactically offensive than this machine the Reason Foundation is putting out and keep the focus off of the rebuttals. These more pro-active statements are more influential on the population than rebuttals.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I agree, Andre, and have been advising the other members of the Yes on 1A coalition to that effect. We are starting to see the ideas we push here on the blog make their way into the campaigns' own messaging.

I also agree with you and Nikko that we do need to proactively push out the messaging. We've been doing more of that behind the scenes than you can see, but much of it isn't breaking through the noise. Dennis Lytton's op-ed is the first one from our grassroots movement that has gotten picked up by the media. We have been trying for a few weeks to push out other op-eds.

The Reason Foundation has a huge head start on us. They have a long relationship with media contacts and are seen (wrongly) as a credible source, so when they crank up their well funded machine, it's hard to compete. I do see a value in rebutting them since nobody else is doing it, but I agree with Andre that we need to push that out more broadly.

I don't mean the above to sound defensive because I agree about the need to be more proactive. I'm going to act on Andre's suggestion, and if anyone wants to help, my email address is my last name at gmail dot com. I can't do it all myself.

bossyman15 said...

don't listen to reason foundation crap...
they want us to keep being stuck on oil.

take a look at this article from reason assholes.


"America should become more – not less – "dependent" on foreign oil. In fact, the best way for America to defuse the so-called Middle Eastern oil weapon is by purchasing even more oil from the region."


On side note... i can't beileve that Drew Carey is on Reason board!
I now no longer like him.

Loren said...

That Reason Foundation guy thinks that being dependent on Mideastern oil will make the the Mideastern oil exporters desperate to have us as customers, but that strikes me as capitalist Panglossianism.

And I think that pointing out the Reason Foundation's capitalist Panglossianism might be a better argument against it than pointing out that it's in the pay of the oil companies.

Mr. Moore's PhD in economics is no excuse for getting the facts all absolutely wrong. Though I think that if the anti-HSR side came to acknowledge HSR's successful competition with short-distance air travel, the anti-HSR side might spin it as poor innocent businesses being destroyed by big bad government.

Also, Mr. Moore's arguments remind me of an absolutely asinine objection to HSR that I've found. Over in Usenet, (groups.google.com, etc.), I've found a preposterous anti-HSR argument in "UCSC Students Rally for High Speed Rail" in ba.transportation:

Someone whom I shall not name does not like it because he does not want to encourage intercity travel, and he does not like intercity travel because he wants to reinforce local identities, like what San Francisco and Berkeley have. He lives in San Francisco, and I don't see how all the hordes of outsiders that visit the city to work and be tourists have deprived that city of what he likes about it.

KevinAroundTheWorld said...

what about contacting Joe Biden for some vocal support? We know he knows the benefits of having express style train service.

Grow said...

Anybody try reading the Reason Foundation report? Many posters here have missed many points of it.

For example, there were comparisons done with the 2 major global HSRs, in France & Japan--not Spain. Comparing the CA state density with anything is ridiculous. The density & amount of people that count is for the potential travelers living fairly close to future stations.

Ad hominem arguments & name-calling does not help either. BTW, part of the motivation in researching facts, for Reason is lower taxes & freedom.

Those who have some education in business, economics & reality, as well as having read some on the issue, know that the CA HSR construction cost is underestimated & ridership is way overestimated.

Also, emission reduction is insignificant.

Anonymous said...

Is the problem with Mr. Moore's dubious "Reason" critique, while useless, self serving, and purely ideological, that the poor decisions, incompetence, and mismanagement of the CHSRA threaten to make so much of his critique true?