TRANSDEF’s Testimony at Senate HSR Hearing

TRANSDEF’s Testimony at
Senate HSR Hearing

03/13/12 Filed in:

I’m David Schonbrunn of
TRANSDEF. We’re transit advocates that have been
litigating HSR EIRs for the past 5 years, and have
been highly critical of the Authority’s route
decisions, their engineering and their ridership
modeling. We see the Authority slowly changing
direction and heading in a more viable direction. We
give great credit to the Peer Review Group for their
courageous comments, which were instrumental in
bringing that about. But we are more outspoken: we
vigorously oppose the Central Valley project and urge
you to not fund it. Many environmental groups, under
the aegis of the Planning and Conservation League,
sent the Governor a letter opposing the project, for
the reasons identified by the Peer Review Group and
Legislative Analyst. That creates credibility
problems for the Governor, who is touting this
project for environmental reasons.

We think the Business Plan has it all backwards. The
absence of private investment in the project
indicates that the current project is a failure.
Clearly, private operators have concluded that the
politically drawn route is a money-loser. We think
that commercial entities that are allowed to design
their own route, to achieve higher ridership and
lower costs, will undertake the ridership risk and
build a complete system. That is the pathway forward.
We have requested meetings with the Authority’s Chair
to talk about how to make this project work, and have
been waiting for months for a reply.

Based on what I heard tonight from Board Member
Hartnett, it looks like the Authority is making a big
mistake, thinking it can defer study of a blended
system until the Project EIR. Unlike past EIRs, we
urge the Authority to respond in good faith to our
DEIR comments. I don’t believe CEQA creates the
obstacles that were hinted at by the Authority’s
Board members tonight. You have to ask yourselves,
“who would sue to enforce CEQA?” If the project
description is for an environmentally superior
alternative, we’ll be cheering and not suing.

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