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Put California's bullet train up for a vote

To the editor: Both the numbers used to sell the project to voters and the current estimates are pure fantasy. California's high-speed rail system is being increasingly advertised as an environmental project, not a transportation system, because it can't come close to making its numbers. ("Doing the math on California's bullet train fares," May 10)

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration will keep spending on the bullet train until we stop it. Where is the ballot initiative to kill this boondoggle?

William Bradshaw, San Diego


To the editor: A critic of the project, William Grindley, states that the bullet train will not break even. You would have to own a lot of stock in the oil companies to believe that one.

According to an article in the May 6 Times, California welcomed 251 million visitors in 2014. Tens of millions of those visitors came from Europe, Japan and China, where they already have bullet trains.

Do these tourists really want to fight California traffic that seems to worsen every year? Or would they rather ride in style to see Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Francisco?

Tourists would not need to rent a car to see Disneyland, take in a Lakers game or see the Golden Gate Bridge. The train would take them right there without any hassle, and Californians would not have to contend with millions of tourists clogging our roads.

Howard Morris, Rancho Cucamonga


To the editor: This article, although comprehensive, ignored the elephant in the room. Any accountant can tell you that operating profit is not net profit. For the latter figure, deductions are made for interest, depreciation, amortization and taxes, if any.

The rail system's business plan projects that in 15 years, there will be an annual operating profit of $700 million. But interest starts accruing on borrowed money now, and it is not insignificant.

The first estimated cost of the project was $68 billion. There have been estimates of $100 billion and more.

For sake of argument, let's assume a cost of completion of $80 billion. If somehow subsidies and government contributions came to $30 billion, loans of $50 billion would be required for the balance.

At a rate of 2.5%, annual interest on the loan would be $1.25 billion. If the interest rate was 4%, every cent of revenue would be required to pay for it.

Where do the planners intend to get the funds for that expense?

Jim Lewis, Los Angeles

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