Boondoggle Train

A fun dialogue about the train to nowhere.

A fictional dialogue for you.

“Daddy,” asked a little girl, “What’s a boondoggle?” Normally I would give a long-winded and verbose definition to impress my kids. This time I had an answer right from the papers and Sacramento.

“A boondoggle is a fast train that goes nowhere. People do not want it because it costs too much, delivers too little, depends on the pipe dream of high ridership, and spends money that the state does not have. If you live in Los Angeles and want to go to San Francisco, you have to drive several hours to get to the train, pay to park your car, speed through farm land, and then reach a yet undetermined destination where you rent a car and drive a couple of hours to get to San Francisco”. (If you thought the sentence was long wait until you take the ride.)

“Daddy,” the child continued, “Who would ever want to do that?”

 “No one that I know and no one who has any sense. From what I understand, most of the taxpayers don’t want it, either,” I answered.

 “Are you a taxpayer, daddy?” she asked. 

“Regretfully I am, since I will be stuck with the bill even though I will never ride the boondoggle,” I sighed.

“Daddy, who does want the boondoggle train?” (Talk about picking the low-hanging fruit.) 

“Well, the main person is a man named Jerry Brown,” I responded. 

“What does he do for a living?” she wanted to know. 

“He is our Democratic governor,” I muttered. 

“Doesn’t he know what a boondoggle is?” she queried. 

“Well, I would certainly think so but from his actions I doubt his mental and business acumen,” I responded. 

“What is an ‘ack-oh-man’?” she wanted to know.

 “Acumen is just a big word that means being smart,” I responded.

“Shouldn’t the governor be smart enough not to want to make us build a boondoggle train?” she probed. At this point the thoughtful father gave up because he had no answers. 

As we all know, one cannot avoid answering a child's question by saying nothing. So after a few seconds the little girl chimes in again, “Daddy, you still did not answer me. Why would anyone want to build a boondoggle train?” she implored. 

I cannot answer the question so I appeal to the readers. Can you answer the little girl? Surely somewhere, somehow, someplace there must be a RATIONAL answer. 


Mark Meuser is running for California State Senate, District 7

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Andrew L. July 16, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Yes, will definitely fly in and and out of OAK next time.
Tom July 16, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The only flight from SNA to OAK that is delayed on a regular basis is SWA 2PM Friday flight. That is because it comes from SFO to SNA. SWA is a VERY reliable carrier for inter california travel. Good luck with the government beating them UNLESS they tax them ouf of the state.
Mark Meuser July 16, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Andrew, I too have experienced flight delays coming into and out of SFO. I have enough flight delay stories that I could probably write a book. If you fly a lot, some interesting stories occur. Just today I was on BART and the train broke down. They had to turn the whole train off and reboot the systems. We ended up arriving about 15 minutes later then we originally were supposed to arrive. I guess the moral of the story is, if you are dependent upon other businesses or public transportation to get you from point A to B, be prepared that things may not always go according to plan.
mcc-dad July 16, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I take the OAK-LAX/BUR/LGB/SNA flight a lot. As a reference point, a bullet train in Japan from Tokyo to Osaka is about 300 miles, and takes 2hr 40min-comparable distance between SF/OAK and LA. I've ridden that bullet train route countless times. I definitely would take the train over the airplane, if it ever became available. However, IMO Bakersfield to Fresno probably won't help the cause.
Andrew L. July 16, 2012 at 06:46 PM
"I guess the moral of the story is, if you are dependent upon other businesses or public transportation to get you from point A to B, be prepared that things may not always go according to plan." Agreed. And this will always be the case unless one walks. What I would like to see, if not HSR, is at least an awareness that having more viable transportation alternatives available to Californians should be considered a positive goal.


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