21st Century Transportation for America


Beware of mis-information being spread around about HSR - for the purpose of undermining projects, and preventing HSR from getting built. Get the facts!


1. "Ridership numbers are in question"
2. "It's a train to nowhere"
3. "Cost estimates are in question"
4. "Voters have turned against the project"
5. "The Authority is incompetent"
6. "It's a Boondoggle!"
7. "Can't compete with low cost airlines"
8. "No one rides trains anymore - its yesterday's technology"
9. "It doesn't work in Europe; It doesn't work in Japan"
10. "We have other more pressing problems"

There exists a "growing force in American politics that creates and disseminates lies designed to disrupt the public policy process for monetary and ideological gain." This operates as an organized, systematic and pervasive national campaign to discredit rail, and in turn prevent investment.

Back mostly by fossil fuel interests, "myths, lies, and distortions are created as part of a coordinated, strategic assault designed to hide the truth, confuse the public, and create controversy where none previously existed, with the goal of halting progress on issues like high speed rail. They undermine our most basic democratic ideals by preventing people in government from effectively acting in the interest of the electorate."

There is an entire well funded "influence industry" that operates in the shadows cranking out "a litany of lies and distortions from an opposition using a set of methodologies out of the same playbook: paid experts produced fake research that was converted into talking points and memes, then repeated on television by paid shills and spread through social media and, when necessary, hammered into the public consciousness through paid advertising campaigns."
-Lies, Incorporated - The World of Post-Truth Politics

"Misinformation is damaging to those who read and absorb it. Once a lie - no matter how outrageous - is part of the consciousness of a particular group, it is nearly impossible to eliminate, and like a virus it spreads uncontrollably within the affected communities. These zombie lies - even after being thoroughly debunked - continue to rise from the dead again and again, impacting political debate and swaying public opinion on a variety of issues.

Strategists operating in this dark industry work hard to establish the lies as fact by solidifying them into the public consciousness as 'common knowledge'. This "common knowledge is repeated on radio, television, in print, and at the water cooler. With each new citation, the lie becomes more entrenched."

The tiny, but well-funded group behind this misinformation industry continuously makes baseless claims against high speed rail to advocate for the status quo - the same status quo that has brought us gridlock, high fuel costs, severe pollution, and planet altering climate change.  Most of the "research" and quotes online and in the media can be linked to just three extreme, super conservative, anti-rail groups: The Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation and the Heritage Foundation.

Intertwined with them spreading the same misinformation are also the following plethora of organizations:  the Independent Institute, the Buckeye Institute, the Public Purpose, the Cascade Policy Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Capital Research Center, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, Washington Legal Foundation, Mercatus Center, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Advancement of Sound Science Center, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Fraser Institute, FreedomWorks, the Hudson Institute, Media Research Center, National Center for Policy Analysis, the American Enterprise Institute, etc.

Noted author Jane Mayer calls them "Think tanks as disguised political weapons" to propagate phony science, manipulate public opinion, and create an echo chamber of denialism.

See who's behind these groups regularly bashing rail across America:
New Yorker | NY Times 8/28 | Exposed | Washington Post | Koch Club | New York Times 5/28/14

According to a new study, corporations and big donors like the Koch brothers are spending nearly $1 billion per year to deny the science of climate change. Study

Tobacco. Climate Science. Now Renewable Energy, and High Speed Rail.

"There’s been a decades-long campaign by fossil fuel interests and politicians who earn their pay, paid talking heads, front groups, all of which exist essentially for no other purpose than to confuse the public and policymakers about climate change, to convince the public and policymakers that the scientific—that there is no scientific consensus. The forces of denial, again, most of them funded or tied in some way to fossil fuel interests, understand that all they need to do is divide the public and confuse the public about this issue to prevent progress from taking place."  -Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science, Penn State University, author: The Madhouse Effect


Click to read report
FACTS:  On Transportation Fiction
San Francisco Chronicle 8/3/11:  "Vranich makes stuff up. Adrianne Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation, says the Europeans are abandoning rail in favor of driving and flying. Nonsense.  Transportation market share of European high-speed rail lines has grown steadily and many are near 80 percent. Rick Geddes, a professor at Cornell University who is also on Reason's payroll, said on National Public Radio that the California system can't be powered by renewable energy - except that the Hoover Dam generates four times what the train needs.

The Reason Foundation is funded by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute, Delta Airlines, the National Air Transportation Association and, of course, the Koch Family Foundation. They know what will happen once Americans, furious about gas prices and the way airlines treat them, experience electrically powered 200-mph trains. But big oil and aviation can't attack high-speed rail directly - that would be an obvious attempt to abort competition. So they hire a "think tank."

Reason collaborates on research with James Moore III, a transportation engineering professor at University of Southern California. They parrot Reason's "train to nowhere" nonsense, a phrase they apply to all rail projects. It's especially absurd in this case, because interim services will have high-speed rail trains slow and reach the Bay Area on existing rail lines. Reason's minions claim there's no business plan or ridership figures. Except that anyone can go on the California High-Speed Rail Authority website and download them.

Where does the corporate cash and propaganda end and the legitimate criticism begin? It was impossible to know in Florida, where high-speed rail was killed using the same techniques. 

A modern 200-mile-per-hour rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco will change America's transportation paradigm. Just like in Europe and Asia, California will develop a profitable system joining all its cities. Nearby states, such as Nevada and Arizona, will link into the network, just like European countries did after France established its network. Jet airplanes will be used for what they were intended: long-distance travel. Automobile use will be reduced. This will save millions of barrels of oil. And that's the real reason these lobbyists want it stopped."  Read the story  |  Reuters  |  Sun Sentinel  |  CA HSR Blog  |  Bloomberg

"The most un-convincible man is the one whose paycheck depends
on remaining unconvinced." -H.L. Mencken

FACTS: On Transportation Subsidies

According to the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts’ Subsidy Scopes program, between 2000 and 2009, passenger rail received a total direct expenditure subsidy (public expenditure minus revenue, like ticket sales, concessions, advertising, etc.) of $2.4 billion. During the same period, highways received a total direct expenditure subsidy (public expenditure minus revenue like gas taxes, tolls, taxes on tires, etc.) of $360 billion.

More Information

Transportation Subsidies

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New Report:  Every State Subsidizes Transportation 

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Topped $620 Billion in 2011!   More info

In response to an absurd UCLA "study" saying Japan's HSR is not been successful, this comment was made:

"Reporter Vartabedian's relentless attacks on high-speed rail are all shot through with inaccuracies and have really become an embarassment to the Times.  The most distressing (and virtually unreported) aspect of the entire high-speed rail controversy is that so much of the opposition has been generated by a massive misinformation campaign supported by the Reason Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and other so-called "think tanks", all of which advocate an ultra-conservative and/or Libertarian political philosophy as opposed to a transportation policy.  Furthermore, the public should be aware that much of the funding for these "foundations" comes from oil companies, several of the major airlines, the highway lobby and, in particular, from the multi-billion dollar foundation run by the infamous Koch brothers.

The truth is, high-speed rail has been proven to be fast, efficient, cost effective and - most important - the preferred mode of transportation everywhere else in the world.  What a pity that high-speed rail has had to fight an expensive and time-wasting uphill battle here in the United States as the result of a misbegotten campaign based on an inflexible anti-government-no-matter-what political ideology."  -Jim Loomis, Los Angeles Times, 7/14/12

Calling out the media: We are "tired of seeing the media orchestrate splashy Jello-wrestling matches, under the guise of providing "balance," by weighing the US National Academies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and "well over 95 percent of scientists who actually work on climate change" against a "denialist"" -Closing the Window on Climate Change

Click to read the real facts on HSR
California Governor's Office of Planning & Research
Climate Change, Just The Facts

Click to read the more real facts on HSR
Click to watch heated debate
The Facts:

FACTS:  On High Speed Rail

Benefits of HSR
Convenience of HSR
Energy security
"A single high speed rail line can carry the equivalent of a 10-lane freeway, can be built for much less cost, is cheaper to operate, uses a tiny fraction of the energy (from electricity, not oil), and operates without congestion or delays - especially during rush hour and peak travel days."
High cost, high energy use, low capacity
Moderate cost, low energy, huge capacity

"High speed rail can carry 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction"
 -Denis Doute, SNCF

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US HSR.  Making it happen.

Roads have been heavily subsidized for 50+ years - According to Federal Highway Administration Statistics
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     Read the Report
Rail systems in America have been under attack since the 1930s.  Watch "Taken for a Ride": 
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USHSR National Rail Map
EU National Rail Map