California’s high-speed rail project is a gigantic boondoggle that’s expected to require at least 12 more years of construction and cost overruns before the first trains run. That timetable, however, didn’t stop the single-party solons who run California from constructing a massive train station in San Francisco that will open later this year–more than 11 years before any trains arrive. For all those years, the facility will sit mostly unused, serving only as the world’s most expensive bus station. Literally millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent just to provide security to prevent the homeless from turning the world’s most expensive bus station into the world’s most expensive urinal.
San Francisco’s over-budget and oversize $2.4 billion Transbay Transit Center will open in December — but it’s going to cost an estimated $20 million a year to run the place, and no one knows where all the money will come from.
The three-block-long behemoth was envisioned as the Grand Central Station of the West, a dynamic hub for buses and high-speed rail that would draw more than 100,000 visitors a day.
Come opening day, however, there will be no high-speed rail. Instead, for many years, the five-level showcase just south of Mission Street between Second and Beale streets will be little more than the world’s most expensive bus station — serving mainly the 14,000 transbay bus commuters who roll in and out daily on AC Transit.
That reality is starting to sink in and has city officials scrambling — because without the big crowds that trains were supposed to bring in, there are serious questions about where all the money needed to keep the place secure, clean and well lit will come from.
With the transit center expected to stay open around the clock, officials say it will take at least 65 private security guards — plus police and sheriff’s deputies — as well as a staff of janitors, maintenance workers and others to keep the place from becoming a giant homeless camp.
Taxpayers and bridge commuters will probably be on the hook to pick up millions of dollars in costs, although the exact amount still isn’t known.
Meanwhile, the authority has been working for months to find a master lessee to run the transit hub, and to line up tenants for the 100,000-square-foot mall that will occupy a good portion of the building.
But there’s a problem.
Without the foot traffic that high-speed rail could draw, the mall is looking a lot less attractive to potential renters. That means the authority may have to offer sweetheart deals to lure stores — which, of course, means less money.
If nothing else, this whole fiasco offers an object lesson in the perils of government planning. Remember, there are good reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed. When government can’t even coordinate the opening of a new railroad with its station within 11 years, do you really want to put them in charge of your healthcare? Do you really want to leave it up to government to decide which antibiotics people need, and in what quantities? Or, say, how many maternity beds to provide?
In any event, if something like this train station fiasco had to happen in America, it’s probably no accident that it happened in loony left California.
Can’t wait to see how long it takes California to complete its transition into Venezuela del Norte.