America 2050 released the following statement today on the release of the California High-Speed Rail Authority's revised business plan.
Governor Jerry Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are to be commended on the revised 2012 draft business plan for high-speed rail, which cuts the project's cost by $30 billion while making numerous improvements to previous proposals.
The revised plan is more cost-effective and is phased in a way that will bring benefits sooner to the urbanized regions of the state, including the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin. It directs funding toward electrifying the high-volume CalTrain corridor on the San Francisco peninsula, reducing pollution, noise and travel times of commuter rail, and makes safety and reliability upgrades to the Amtrak-Metrolink corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim. These improvements will benefit existing commuters and will clear a path for integration with high-speed trains in the future. In addition, the plan proposes an Initial Operating Segment, which can be completed in the first 10 years, stretching 300 miles from California's fast-growing Central Valley to the San Fernando Valley at the gateway to the Los Angeles basin.
"Not only does this plan reduce the project cost substantially, it provides a new phasing strategy that will bring the benefits of high-speed rail to Californians more quickly," said Robert Yaro, co-chairman of America 2050.
By running high-speed trains on existing rail infrastructure in more densely populated areas, the revised business plan cuts construction costs significantly and will allow the high-speed rail authority to connect the service sooner than anticipated to California's largest markets in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin. The plan also prioritizes planning and environmental approvals to extend the Initial Operating Segment south from Bakersfield to Palmdale to close the gap in rail service between Northern and Southern California.
"These revisions makes sense. They provide improvements now for the highly congested northern and southern regions of California and then link them together in the future," said Mark Pisano, co-chairman of America 2050. "Connecting the state's big population centers will foster economic growth while alleviating road and airport congestion."
Petra Todorovich, director of America 2050, said, "It is clear that the success of high-speed rail in the U.S. is dependent on delivering real benefits to users at every stage in the process of project development and construction. The revisions to the California high-speed rail business plan address the urgency of translating taxpayer investment into transportation improvements in our commuting lifetimes."