One of the very few good things brought about by the coronavirus epidemic recently occurred in California.
Train enthusiasts will recall that former Governor Jerry Brown was spending $80.3 billion to construct a 500-mile high-speed train from Orange County to San Francisco.
As is often the case, the champion of the boondoggle leaves others in their wake to deal with the fiscal problems associated with their grandiose plans. Such has been the case with California Governor Gavin Newsom, no fiscal conservative, who has been forced to deal with cost overruns, logistical headaches and continued legal challenges to the rail line. Newson responded last year by scaling back the rail line to a more modest 171-mile “starter train.”
Now, liberals in the legislature are facing massive budget shortfalls courtesy of record unemployment due to the coronavirus epidemic. As such, they are proposing cutting their rail losses by shortening the line even further and not building any additional new track. And in a most interesting concession, they are proposing that when the train does begin service, it does so with lower-cost diesel trains in lieu of the electric trains promised 12 years ago when voters approved the train to “reduce carbon emissions.”
This is an important lesson: when facing dire budget alternatives, it appears that California liberals first chose to throw their climate crisis solutions off their (electric) train.