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Todd: If Microsoft wants a train, they can build it themselves

Hundreds of high-speed trains at a maintenance base in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. (Photo by Wang He/Getty Images)

Washington state does not need a high speed train to take people from Vancouver, WA to Vancouver, BC and over to Spokane. On any given day, there are 10 to 20 flights to these areas. There are freeways, there is a bloated AMTRAK train, and soon enough there will be robotic cars that will ship you there.

Washington state cannot be trusted to build something like a high-speed rail system. California finally had to pull the plug in their wrong-headed, financial cancer, but not before it became an object lesson in how to quadruple a budget while trying to build a train that is slower than flying, costs more and leaves less often from its main hubs than air travel.

In Washington state, WSDOT chose to build a tunnel that is smaller in capacity than the freeway it replaced, has far fewer useful exit points and will cost more to run than it would have to have had it revamped that freeway. It also requires something like monthly closures on weekends to reboot its software and check its systems.

In Washington state, big real estate developers are the real customers of WSDOT and Sound Transit. WSDOT built a smaller freeway and big developers have new views to sell.

You do not owe Microsoft any of your tax money and Microsoft doesn’t need any of your tax money. Microsoft wants to pretend they are helping out with a $500,000 study with the conclusion designed in: they want a train. Microsoft may now weigh in with $5 million to push for a train. Given Microsoft’s well-earned wealth, that kind of cash isn’t worth a CFO’s time to pick it up off the floor.

What Microsoft is after is capturing your money to build their train so they can have their employees in quiet cars, typing and Skyping their way to meetings or from their new bedroom communities while you pay for them to travel. People have been conditioned to never expect rail in Washington state to come anywhere near covering its operating costs with fee revenues.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen got their commercials start in software by trying to sell cities traffic light optimization technology. Instead of reaching their hands into your paychecks, maybe Microsoft could, instead, actually use their incredible combined brainpower and nearly limitless funding to build transportation solutions that are so compelling and useful that people will voluntarily buy them. But, why do that when you can take money by force?

If Microsoft wants a stupid money burning pit called “high speed rail,” Microsoft can pay for it with their own money. Tell me I’m wrong.

“Tell Me I’m Wrong” airs every day on the Candy, Mike and Todd Show at 3:30. The Candy, Mike and Todd Show airs every weekday afternoon from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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