Letter: More pie in the sky?


While a student, high school, SJSU & Santa Clara Law, I worked at SPRR and UPRR, and anyone studying for a career in railroads, take heed: Viable careers in railroads may be at one of the Class Ones, or a member of the American Short Line RR Assn., but it is far more likely that students studying railroads at the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) will become bankruptcy attorneys specializing in Ch. 9 Municipal Bankruptcy and socialist government insolvency, e.g., insolvent county transit in every county in California.

Voters voted for self-sufficient HSR, not a jumbo size Amtrak, insolvent from the start even though congressmen stood on the floor of the congress in 1970 and proclaimed that “it will be self-sufficient in three years.” Yeh. And how many billions have we poured down that Black Hole? Like public sector transit, conceived insolvent, born bankrupt. 

Students with their eyes open, objective, not swallowing pap from lobbyists who do make money promoting the Frankenstein, or the lies from the builders, will condemn CAHSRA’s Supermassive Black Hole just like Lunar Escalators or Electric Rickshaws. 

After debating Hon. Rod Diridon in 2008 before the Prop. 1A Election, Gilroy Dispatch, and other newspapers, published my Guest Editorial in which I predicted that gas taxes would have to rise to $10/gal to pay the subsidies needed to make Bullet Train go. In hindsight, I was wrong; given the current estimated price, and annual operating losses, you will be asking motorists to pay closer to $20/gal in gas and diesel taxes. And then, you’ll be in big trouble if people get taxed out of their cars—where will you get the $$$$ to run the Mother of All Boondoggles Bullet Train.

As a post-doc student of transportation law & policy, Mineta Institute, SJSU, Transportation Research Board, Georgetown; and Library of Congress, I want to give a word of caution to students seeking a career in  railroads: trainwreck! Their career, like the CAHSRA, will be one.

Take Nodoze if you have to, but wake up and smell the coffee. Better off learning care and feeding of horses and jackasses than to become one chasing the Trojan Horse Bullet Train.

Caveat viator.

Joseph P. Thompson, Esq.

Past-Chair, Legislation Committee, Transportation Lawyers Assn.

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