TRAC Proposes Plan B for HSR
11/27/13 Filed in: High-Speed Rail
In the wake of the collapse of the Central Valley project, the Train Riders Association of California has issued its Plan B for High-Speed Rail:
1. The Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) strongly supports a modern High-Speed Rail (HSR) system for California. HSR will be critical in providing interregional mobility to a growing population at a lower environmental impact than widening highways and adding runways. Successful HSR should greatly benefit the economy.
2. Even if the currently proposed $6 billion Merced-Bakersfield project were successfully completed, no funding is available to build the rest of the HSR system. This would leave this very expensive track unused and unusable, except perhaps by Amtrak to save a few minutes on the San Joaquins.
3. Funding is a problem because the California High Speed Rail Authority’s plans are not attractive to private investors. The Authority hopes that $26 billion of federal grants will lead to private investment, but the Sacramento Superior Court ruling found that “there is, in reality, no reasonably anticipated time of receipt for any of the potential new federal funds.”
4. TRAC is grateful for the Sacramento Superior Court’s ruling that the Authority’s project does not meet the taxpayer protection requirements of the 2008 voter-approved HSR bond measure, Proposition 1A. Preventing the current project from spending bond funds illegally will preserve the potential for successful HSR in California.
5. California needs a realistic and achievable HSR plan. State government needs to partner with an operator that has developed and operated commercially viable HSR.
6. An economically successful HSR system will create far more construction jobs than the current project, and will support high-quality long-term jobs.
7. Filling gaps in the California passenger rail network should be the state’s first priority. The most significant missing link is Los Angeles–Bakersfield. The Tejon/Grapevine route parallel to I-5 is much faster and far more economical than the Authority’s proposed route via Palmdale. The July 2013 California Rail News’ centerpiece article discusses the Tejon option in detail.