Commentary

High Speed Rail Earns Boondoggle Award–From the Government!

You know a project has sunk pretty deep in a political abyss when it’s labeled a boondoggle by the government! That’s what’s happened to the California High-Speed Rail and its “train to nowhere.” The U.S. House Budget Committee, headed by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, has called the project out as a waste of taxpayer money and officially dubbed it a boondoggle in a June 15, 2011 press release from the committee. The committee lobs numerous criticisms of the project, but the last point probably sums it up:

“California’s train to nowhere is a monument to the failure of the $821-billion stimulus bill. The Obama administration promised the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent; but the jobless rate continues to hover around 9 percent while economic growth remains weak. Americans were told the stimulus funds would be spent quickly, on “shovel-ready” projects, to jump-start the economy; yet more than 2 years later the administration is still trying to find takers for its high-speed rail awards, and construction on the ill-fated California project will not begin until the fall of 2012 at the earliest.”

Reason Foundation’s ongoing commentary and research on high-speed rail can be found here.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.