Commentary

Sec. LaHood Invincibly Ignorant on CA High Speed Rail

Ignore the naysayers — full-speed ahead on high-speed rail, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Oakland Tuesday, opens a San Francisco Chronicle blog post. LaHood went on to say “We are not going to be dissuaded by a little background noise of criticism because there is loud, loud amount of support for high-speed rail in California.”

Can’t you just picture him with his hands over his ears, “la la la la la la la! I’m not listening!”?

There has been a stream of news over the past year showing growing concern and opposition to CA’s high-speed rail plan, including the Legislative Analysts Office questioning the plan. My recent favorite is folks in the Central Valley saying WHOA to being given 45 days to comment on a 30,206 page draft Environmental Impact Report. Seriously? That means they have to read 671 pages per day just to finish reading it by the deadline. To actually comment, more like 1000 pages a day. Does that seem reasonable? Does that invite public participation? Or does that make you think of “la la la la la la la! We’re not listening!”?

And while LaHood is ignoring those things, he is also ignoring basic math. Again from the Chronicle blog:

Asked whether Republican opposition means federal funding of high-speed rail is either dead or in hibernation, LaHood said: “No. . . . The president just put $4 billion for high-speed rail in the American Jobs Act.”


a. that law has not even been introduced, so it is hardly a credible answer.
b. The plan calls for the Feds providing a minimum of $10 billion, though that still leaves the project over $20 billion short. So how is $4 bn nationally, of which CA can at best hope to get, what? $1 billion? going to help close that gap?
Any rational reading of LaHood’s response is “don’t count of the Feds to fund as much of this project as you hoped.” Combine that with the reality that the private sector is not coughing up $20 bn for a project that won’t make money, and that local governments are laying off workers, not lining up to pay $5 billion for the project. So basically the financial plan is dead, dead, dead. Admit it. Stop spending money on it.
Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. Moore leads Reason's policy implementation efforts and conducts his own research on topics such as privatization, government and regulatory reform, air quality, transportation and urban growth, prisons and utilities.

Moore, who has testified before Congress on several occasions, regularly advises federal, state and local officials on ways to streamline government and reduce costs.

In 2008 and 2009, Moore served on Congress' National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. The commission offered "specific recommendations for increasing investment in transportation infrastructure while at the same time moving the Federal Government away from reliance on motor fuel taxes toward more direct fees charged to transportation infrastructure users." Since 2009 he has served on California's Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission.

Mr. Moore is co-author of the book Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "Speaking from our experiences in Texas, Sam Staley and Adrian Moore get it right in Mobility First." World Bank urban planner Alain Bartaud called it "a must read for urban managers of large cities in the United States and around the world."

Moore is also co-author of Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit, published in 1997 by the Brookings Institution Press, as well as dozens of policy studies. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orange County Register, as well as in, Public Policy and Management, Transportation Research Part A, Urban Affairs Review, Economic Affairs, and numerous other publications.

In 2002, Moore was awarded a World Outsourcing Achievement Award by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Michael F. Corbett & Associates Ltd. for his work showing governments how to use public-private partnerships and the private sector to save taxpayer money and improve the efficiency of their agencies.

Prior to joining Reason, Moore served 10 years in the Army on active duty and reserves. As an noncommissioned officer he was accepted to Officers Candidate School and commissioned as an Infantry officer. He served in posts in the United States and Germany and left the military as a Captain after commanding a Heavy Material Supply company.

Mr. Moore earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. He holds a Master's in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master's in History from California State University, Chico.