Friday, May 31, 2013

Mass Transit and Population Density - 3.a.

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I wish to correct a previous inaccuracy.  The current projected cost of the CA HSR is no longer $64B (up from the $33B originally put to the voters).  It is now $98.5B.  It is still projected to be cheaper than the projected alternatives because those alternatives have been continuously revised upwards to ensure that the HSR is projected to be cost effective.  Also Oceania is now at war with Eurasia and always has been.
I'm sorry - I just can't keep up - I mean I try, I really do, but there are only so many times you can keep checking.  They should stream the updated projections so we don't have to keep checking back all the time.  Or maybe have some running-count billboard like for the National Debt (which is bigger than the cost of the HSR, so far).  The HSR cost apparently goes up in discrete quanta of $33B every year so projecting the projections (projections squared, I suppose) leads one to conclude that by the time it is built, it will come to $1 Trillion allowing for inflation.  That will be okay, because by then the usage projections will have everyone in Northern and Southern California switching places daily.

This $98B revision comes courtesy of the LA Times which has the following articles:

quote: (the traffic) "claim is based on such exaggerated estimates, misleading statements and erroneous assumptions that it is 'divorced from any reality.'"

"the rail authority has rebuffed offers to have UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis, which have among the top five university transportation departments in the nation, help analyze the bullet-train system."  (from a representative of Burlingame near SFO)

"Instead, the rail authority has relied heavily on New York-based Parsons Brinckerhoff, a contractor that helped fund the political campaign for the $9.9-billion bond measure passed by voters in 2008. Although the rail authority has more than two dozen employees, Parsons controls 108 people working on the project."
So a funder of the proposition is in charge of making projections that will keep him in business working on the project.  Sometimes conflict-of-interest goes beyond mere sordid corruption to become an art form.  This is one of those truly awe-inspiring times.  We are witness to new innovations in conflict of interest.  But fear not!  The HSR project has a special manager to ensure the accuracy of the estimates:

"Frank S. Koppelman, who was hired by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to ensure the accuracy of ridership and revenue forecasts, worked on projects for the company providing the estimates."

"transportation experts at UC Berkeley [...] concluded last July that the patronage models were so unreliable that they could not accurately predict whether the train would be profitable or run severe deficits"

Wherein Quentin Kopp (former head of the California High-Speed Rail Authority) opposes current HSR plans saying "I want to kill this iteration of it because it betrays the representations to the voters in November 2008"
And lots more like that there stuff.

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