Category Archives: Finances

What Did Governor Gavin Newsom Actually Say About California High-Speed Rail?

There are many interpretations of what new California Governor Gavin Newsom said about California High-Speed Rail during his State of the State address on February 12, 2019, including his own interpretation on Twitter.

Capitol Public Radio prepared a video and transcript of the speech. Here’s the excerpt about California High-Speed Rail:

Next, let’s level about high speed rail.  I have nothing but respect for Governor Brown’s and Governor Schwarzenegger’s ambitious vision. I share it. And there’s no doubt that our state’s economy and quality of life depend on improving transportation.



But let’s be real. The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.



Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A. I wish there were.



However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield.



I know that some critics will say this is a “train to nowhere.”  But that’s wrong and offensive. The people of the Central Valley endure the worst air pollution in America as well as some of the longest commutes. And they have suffered too many years of neglect from policymakers here in Sacramento. They deserve better.



High Speed Rail is much more than a train project.  It’s about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley.

We can align our economic and workforce development strategies, anchored by High Speed Rail, and pair them with tools like opportunity zones, to form the backbone of a reinvigorated Central Valley economy.



Merced, Fresno, Bakersfield, and communities in between are more dynamic than many realize.



The Valley may be known around the world for agriculture, but there is another story ready to be told. A story of a region hungry for investment, a workforce eager for more training and good jobs, Californians who deserve a fair share of our state’s prosperity.



Look, we will continue our regional projects north and south. We’ll finish Phase 1 environmental work. We’ll connect the revitalized Central Valley to other parts of the state, and continue to push for more federal funding and private dollars. But let’s just get something done.



For those who want to walk away from this whole endeavor, I offer you this: Abandoning high speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it.



And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump. Nor am I interested in repeating the same old mistakes.



Today I am ordering new transparency measures. We’re going to hold contractors and consultants accountable to explain how taxpayer dollars are spent – including change orders, cost overruns, even travel expenses. It’s going online, for everybody to see.



You’re also going to see some governance changes, starting with my pick for the next chair of the High Speed Rail Authority, Lenny Mendonca, my Economic Development Director. Because, at the end of the day, transportation and economic development must go hand in hand.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, 2019 State of the State Address

Efficient High-Speed Rail Travel Between Gilroy and Palmdale: Is It Worth $100 Billion?

Financial analyst William Grindley presented his latest study to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) board at its January 15, 2019 meeting. On behalf of the people of California and the United States, he argues yet again that this project – the costliest infrastructure project in human history – is a waste of money and needs to be terminated, immediately.

The new study is If You Build It, They Will Not Come – The Sequel – The Findings and Consequences of Competitive Analyses of HSR Versus Auto and Air Travel – 2029-2040. It debunks the claims of the California High-Speed Rail Authority about future ridership – and future revenue.

Mr. Grindley (with coauthor William Warren) makes a reasonable assumption that the Authority chooses to ignore: Californians (even California state legislators) will continue to drive or fly between California cities, rather than taking high-speed rail, if driving or flying takes less time and costs less, which it does on the vast majority of high-speed rail routes.

Using CHSRA data and mathematical formulas, Grindley and Warren analyzed three-fourths of all travel routes possible on the future rail system for the first operational segment (140 routes) and possible for Phase 1 (an additional 180 routes). Their calculations show that only one of those high-speed rail routes would have total travel time and total travel cost that are less than flying or driving: the route between Gilroy and Palmdale. Based on these results, Mr. Grindley concludes that the Authority’s estimates for ridership are five times higher than what would be expected if people make rational transportation decisions based on the time and cost of travel.

They also consider the claims of Silicon Valley high-speed rail promoters that people will use the bullet train to commute between homes in the Central Valley and workplaces in Silicon Valley. Mr. Grindley calculates travel times and concludes the proposed high-speed rail link is absurd and connecting the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train with high-speed rail at Merced is even more absurd.

What we’ll get for $100 billion are higher fares, longer travel times, and government subsidies a few riders for a poorly thought out travel mode.

Source Documents

The New Report by Grindley and Warren: If You Build It, They Will Not Come – The Sequel – The Findings and Consequences of Competitive Analyses of HSR Versus Auto and Air Travel – 2029-2040

Slideshow for California High-Speed Rail Authority – January 15, 2019

Public Comment at January 15, 2019 California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting

Press Release/Summary

Detailed Analysis of Silicon Valley – Central Valley California High-Speed Rail Routes Routes

Detailed Analysis of San Francisco – Los Angeles (Phase 1) California High-Speed Rail Routes

All Documents and Referenced Materials Used in Grindley and Warren Report

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Previous Reports by Grindley and Warren on Aspects of the California High Speed Rail’s Finances

Previous Financial Reports about California High-Speed Rail by Grindley and Warren

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New Business Plan for California High-Speed Rail Slices Through San Joaquin Valley at Much Higher Cost to Taxpayers

On March 9, the California High-Speed Rail Authority released its Draft 2018 Business Plan and asked for public comments about it.

According to the new business plan, the cost of Phase 1 construction between San Francisco and Los Angeles/Anaheim is now estimated at $77.3 billion. The route is expected to be completed in 2033.

Read the plan: California High-Speed Rail Authority Draft 2018 Business Plan and consider commenting about it using this web site: Draft 2018 Business Plan Comments.

California High-Speed Rail Cost Increase to $77.3 Billion

California High-Speed Rail Cost Increase to $77.3 Billion

How has the plan changed in ten years?

One dramatic change is cost and scope. Proposition 1A authorized the state to borrow $9.95 billion to get the project going. Information about Proposition 1A in the November 2008 Official Voter Information Guide stated that “the total cost to develop and construct the entire high-speed train system would be about $45 billion.”

This $45 billion “entire high-speed trail system” included service to Sacramento and San Diego as well as the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It also assumed dedicated track for the entire system, as opposed to the current “blended” plan in which high-speed trains share track with commuter light rail at the “bookends” near San Francisco and Los Angeles.

See the text of Proposition 1A and the ballot material related to it: Prop 1A: Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

In 2008, supporters of Proposition 1A declared in their official ballot argument to voters that “signers of the ballot argument against Proposition 1A are habitual opponents of transportation improvements. Their claims are wrong and their data simply made up.”

Ten years later, it is proven that opponents of Proposition 1A were indeed wrong. They underestimated how bad it was going to be!

Meanwhile, the groups making money off of California High-Speed Rail continue to push for the project to continue. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, a coalition of unions with a monopoly on the construction workforce for the project, issued a statement on March 9 supporting the 2018 Business Plan: SBCTC Statement on California’s New High Speed Rail Plan.

With politically powerful unions continuing to support this project, the spending will continue until the courts finally stop it. Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) and other organizations will continue to argue to the judicial branch that the state’s legislative and executive branches have failed to uphold the promises made to voters in Proposition 1A.

In the meantime, the property takings and cultural erosion of agricultural communities far away from San Francisco and Los Angeles will continue at the hands of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Join Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) in the campaign to stop this misguided plan targeted at the San Joaquin Valley. Make a contribution to our fight here.

As Expected, Cost Soars for First Construction Segment of California High-Speed Rail

Everyone knew it was coming – even the board and top executives of California High-Speed Rail Authority.

At the Authority’s January 16, 2018 board meeting, board members received a “Central Valley Cost Update” presentation. The news was – as usual – bad.

The Madera to Fresno first construction segment is now $1.2 billion higher than the original estimate. And the Fresno to Kern County second and third construction segments are now $700 million higher than the original estimate. I do hope that these additional costs don’t lead to the workers having to rush to complete the job in as little time as possible. Rushing on construction sites can lead to workers suffering serious injuries. Fortunately, construction accident law firms can help should a situation like this arise.

Construction Package 1 (with Highway 99 improvements) is now estimated to cost $3.4 billion. Few people remember the public relations bonanza for the California High-Speed Rail Authority in June 2013, when the Authority board awarded that package at the low, low bid of $985 million. (Approved change orders for that contract as of November 30, 2017 have already increased the project cost by $355.6 million.)

The total estimated cost of the Initial Construction Segment (Madera to Shafter) is now $10.6 billion. And this is the cheap, easy part of the route: flat farmland.

Few people remember that in November 2008 voters approved Proposition 1A and authorized the state to borrow $9.95 billion to get the project underway. Some of that money was spent in other parts of the state on planning and “connectivity projects” such as train cars for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district.

In the meantime, Governor Jerry Brown and the governing majority in the California state legislature continue to support the project. Repeated efforts by Assemblyman Jim Patterson to initiate audits of the California High-Speed Rail Authority have failed to pass the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Lobbyists for big corporations and labor unions boost the project, in defiance of reality.

Meanwhile, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) continues to pursue its lawsuit contending that the Authority has failed to comply with Proposition 1A. But as construction creeps forward through prime farmland and quiet agricultural communities (yes, land is already being torn up), cost overruns – or a fiscally responsible new Governor – may stop the project before the courts do.

PRIMARY SOURCES

California High-Speed Rail Authority Central Valley Cost Update – January 16, 2018

Construction Package 1 (CP-1) Monthly Status Report Through November 30, 2017

SAMPLE OF NEWS MEDIA REPORTS

California Bullet Train Cost Surges by $2.8 Billion: ‘Worst-Case Scenario Has Happened’Los Angeles Times – January 16, 2018

Is High-Speed Rail Dying? This Could Be a Crucial Year for the Troubled ProjectFresno Bee – January 18, 2018

California High-Speed Rail Summer Highlights, Part 2: Failed Promises

Contrary to the claims of the taxpayer-funded California High-Speed Rail Authority Communications Department, the summer of 2017 was grim for the future of California High-Speed Rail.

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) continually tracks developments (or lack of developments) for this costly, misguided high-speed rail plan. We see several trends ongoing with this project. The second is Failed Promises.

In November 2008, when California voters were considering Proposition 1A to borrow $9.95 billion for California High-Speed Rail, fiscal conservatives warned about the official projections:

California General Election Official Voter Information Guide – Proposition 1A – November 4, 2008

Now, almost nine years later, the truth is being revealed. The project is much more expensive than was claimed:

California Bullet Train Costs Up $1.7 Billion for Central Valley SegmentLos Angeles Times – September 28, 2017

Even board members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority were compelled to ask about cost overruns:

California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting Transcript of Proceedings – September 19, 2017 (also California High-Speed Rail Authority Board Meeting Video – September 19, 2017)

“That my concern and my discomfort level is that while this is short-term cash flow kinds of decisions that need to be made, in the big picture for the public, for our stakeholders where we don’t frankly have a great deal of good will or confidence in us, this sort of shell game of moving money around where we know we’re going to eventually — especially items three and four — we’re eventually going to have to come up with the money that we’re moving around.”

Rail Board Members Question Bullet Train Budget Overruns  – Associated Press – September 20, 2017

And it’s way behind schedule:

High Speed Rail in Valley Was Once Supposed to Be Done by Saturday. Not Even CloseFresno Bee – September 24, 2017

Not that any observers of California High-Speed Rail are surprised their predictions came true:

Why Missed Deadline for California Bullet Train Is No SurpriseSan Diego Union-Tribune – September 30, 2017

Of course, what California High-Speed Rail is today is not what was promised to voters in 2008:

High-Speed Rail Gets Us Stuck in Traffic – California Policy Center – July 24, 2017

Former leading backers of the project are now highly critical, especially former California State Senator Quentin Kopp:

Bogus Bullet TrainSacramento Bee – September 14, 2017

The Politician Behind California High Speed Rail Now Says It’s ‘Almost a Crime’ – Reason Foundation – September 20, 2017

But what can ordinary Californians do? One area where citizens have exposed the California High-Speed Rail Authority concerns its schemes to circumvent environmental review:

California’s Bullet Train Is Likely to Face More Environmental Hurdles After a High Court RulingLos Angeles Times – July 31, 2017

High-Speed Rail Backers Lose Another Round in Court – Los Angeles Times – August 2, 2017

Governor Jerry Brown and the majority party in control of the state legislature are committed to support this project to the end. Citizens have turned to the courts to bring California High-Speed Rail Accountability to the public:

Lawsuit Demands California High-Speed Rail Comply With Voter Intentions – California Policy Center – June 1, 2017

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Confidential Report Says First Construction Segment of California High-Speed Rail May Cost 50% More Than Expected

California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrunSomehow, Los Angeles Times reporter Ralph Vartabedian was able to get a document “for internal use only” that top Federal Railroad Administration officials reportedly gave to top California High-Speed Rail officials at a December 1, 2016 meeting in Washington, D.C. He reported on this “confidential” document today (January 13, 2017): California’s Bullet Train Is Hurtling Toward a Multibillion-Dollar Overrun, a Confidential Federal Report Warns.

This report claims that the Initial Construction Segment of California High-Speed Rail (apparently identified as Merced to Shafter rather than Madera to Shafter) would cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion instead of the assumed $6.4 billion. It also will not be completed until 2024 instead of the planned 2018.

Finally, the report concludes that the California High-Speed Rail Authority may not be able to achieve the conditions required to qualify for federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus grants awarded in 2009 and 2010. This means California taxpayers would be alone in paying for it.

Presumably this report only refers to the laying of track in the San Joaquin Valley and does not include electrification. At this time the California High-Speed Rail Authority had not even begun the bidding process toward Construction Package 5 – laying track on the Initial Construction Segment. Contractors for “Construction Package 1” are now working on demolition and civil engineering, including a viaduct near Madera.

Aaron Fukuda, co-chairman of Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) was a guest on the Ray Appleton Show (with substitute hosts Blake Taylor and Michael Reed) on KMJ News/Talk 580AM/105.9 FM in Fresno on January 13 to talk about the boondoggle. Also calling in to decry the insufficiency of state oversight on the project was California State Senator Andy Vidak. And a statement from California Congressman Jeff Denham criticizing the project was referenced during the show.

This cost overrun and delay is not surprising to Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA). Nor is it surprising that the California High-Speed Rail Authority is downplaying the report. That state agency continues its quest to take land from San Joaquin Valley farmers, homeowners, commercial and industrial businesses, places of worship, non-profit groups, and even homeless shelters. It wants to lock up the land for a time when state tax increases provide enough funding to pay for completion of the San Joaquin Valley track.

What Californians may end up getting for their $10 billion is a winding dedicated track for Amtrak diesel engines to cart passengers between Madera to Shafter. Is this what 53% of California voters envisioned when they voted for Proposition 1A in November 2008?

KMJ Podcast: 2:04:36 Blake Taylor & Michael Reed fill in for Ray Appleton – January 13, 2017

Congressman Jeff Denham: Denham Statement on Latest Report of California High-Speed Rail Overruns – January 13, 2017

State Senator Andy Vidak: Now Governor, Will You Finally Support an Audit of High-Speed Rail? – January 13, 2017

Congressman Kevin McCarthy: Statement on reports that California’s high-speed rail would cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated, or an extra $3.6 billion – January 13, 2017

The Hunt for Dollars to Build the $64-Billion Bullet TrainLos Angeles Times – December 24, 2016

Proposition 53 Has Implications for California High-Speed Rail

Proposition 53 Has Implications for California High-Speed Rail

Governor Jerry Brown and his political allies, led by construction trade unions, have ramped up a major campaign to defeat Proposition 53. This statewide ballot measure could jeopardize future funding prospects for California High-Speed Rail.

Proposition 53, also known as the “No Blank Checks Initiative” would require voter approval for the State of California to sell a total of more than $2 billion worth of revenue bonds for a project. Unlike “general obligation bonds,” which are repaid (with interest) through state income and sales taxes, revenue bonds are repaid (with interest) through fees, fares, tolls, or other payments for services.

The Delta farmer who funded the placement of Proposition 53 on the ballot and is funding the campaign to pass it was mainly inspired by a desire to stop Governor Brown’s controversial “Delta Tunnels” project. But Proposition 53 could also hinder future efforts by the State of California to borrow money for California High-Speed Rail construction and operation.

Voters fed up with the continuing expenses for high-speed rail could potentially reject the sale of revenue bonds and cut off a source of state funding. An effective opposition argument to the sale of revenue bonds for California High-Speed Rail would probably focus on the exaggerated projections of ridership and fare revenue for the high-speed passenger train system.

California High-Speed Rail is frequently mentioned in the news media as a project that could be jeopardized if Proposition 53 passes on November 8. For example, the October 14, 2016 San Francisco Chronicle article about Proposition 53 was titled “Prop. 53 Could Bring Big Projects to a Halt” and featured a frequently-published photo of CCHSRA allies Kevin Dayton and his daughter picketing at the high-speed rail groundbreaking ceremony in Fresno in January 2015.

Besides the farmer who is paying for the Proposition 53 campaign, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – an ally of CCHSRA – is the main organization supporting it. The argument in favor of Proposition 53 cites California High-Speed Rail as a reason to vote for it:

Proposition 53 will STOP POLITICIANS FROM ISSUING BLANK CHECK DEBT to complete billion dollar state boondoggles. Take California’s bullet train. They told us it would cost California taxpayers $10 billion. Now we know it’s going to cost more than $60 billion! Yet, you don’t have a right to vote on that huge increase!

Leading opponents of Proposition 53 are construction trade unions, which have a monopoly on construction of the California High-Speed Rail system through a Project Labor Agreement. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; the Carpenters, Laborers, Ironworkers, and Operating Engineers unions; and the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Trust have been top funders of the campaign to defeat Proposition 53.

The rebuttal to the argument against Proposition 53 in the California Official Voter Guide states that opponents “include insiders who profit from massive state revenue bond projects, and politicians and bureaucrats who don’t trust you to decide whether to approve boondoggles like the $64 billion bullet train…” Some people would declare that to be an accurate depiction of the chief backers of California High-Speed Rail.

For More Information:

California General Election November 8, 2016 Official Voter Information Guide – Proposition 53

Proposition 53 Donors – For and Against

California High-Speed Rail Authority Blames You for Its Four-Year Delay

On May 16, 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration and the California High-Speed Rail Authority revised their agreement for $2.6 billion in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for the High-Speed Passenger Train for the 21st Century.

California High-Speed Train Program ARRA Grant

The revised agreement can be found here: FRA Grant/Cooperative Agreement for ARRA Funding (Amendment, FR-HSR-0009-10-01-06)

In a California High-Speed Rail Authority press release dated May 18, 2016, the Authority CEO claimed that “High-speed rail construction is underway in California and this agreement is consistent with our efforts to connect Silicon Valley and the Central Valley by 2024, and then move forward with connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles.” Those “efforts” were just adopted by the Authority board on April 21, 2016 as the California High-Speed Rail Authority 2016 Business Plan.

This revised plan anticipates high-speed passenger trains running on electrified track between the Central Valley and San Jose by 2025. The 2014 Business Plan had anticipated high-speed passenger trains running on electrified track running between the Central Valley and the San Fernando Valley by 2022.

A May 18, 2016 article in Politico quoted the CEO as saying “Early on, there was a vision, but no clear sense of how to implement that vision…We have that now, and we’re moving ahead aggressively.” Central Valley residents are surprised to learn there had not been clarity in how to implement a vision, considering that the Authority has tried for several years via negotiations and eminent domain to acquire private property for the supposed implementation of a vision.

Proposition 1A was approved in November 2008. The federal grants were awarded in 2010. As of today (June 2, 2016), the Authority has not even issued a Request for Qualifications for track between Madera and Shafter (Construction Package #5) and there is no schedule yet for bidding on electrication or a heavy maintenance facility coveted by local governments in the San Joaquin Valley. Construction has been limited to a viaduct, the demolition of structures and a street bridge in the City of Fresno, and some token archeological investigation.

Who’s to blame for the delay? The Obama Administration and the California High-Speed Rail Authority have designated a villian, and it is YOU. The May 18, 2016 article in Politico reports the contention of the Authority that your quest for public accountability is to blame:

Federal Railroad Administration officials assigned much of the blame for the lags to the project’s vociferous critics, who have tied it up with a tangle of lawsuits, administrative challenges, and other red tape. They complained that the opponents, especially Central Valley farmers and other not-in-my-back-yard landowners, have gotten far more traction against the railway than they would have against a highway, reflecting a cultural and political bias in favor of traditional asphalt infrastructure. But while they described today’s agreement as a routine bureaucratic clarification, they said they expect an explosive reaction from opponents looking to score political points in Sacramento and Washington.

There will always be politicians and special interest groups who will blame any California High-Speed Rail failures on ordinary citizens who exercise their rights to bring public accountability to this boondoggle. Advocates of the high-speed rail often express resentment about being subjected to checks and balances inherent in the United States Constitution and the California Constitution.

But the truth is that the legislative branch and the executive branch have generally ignored opponents, and the judicial branch has mostly rejected legal arguments from opponents. The real cause of the delays is the flawed language in Proposition 1A approved by 53% of California voters in November 2008. That ballot measure made promises to voters that it could not possibly keep.

Since then, the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Governor Jerry Brown have used every trick in the book to keep the taxpayer money flowing and their patrons happy. (The funding comes from the annual state budget, particularly through cap-and-trade taxes.) Meanwhile, the self-declared author of Proposition 1A continues to receive awards and acclaim for putting out the bait while the switch goes on in Sacramento.

SOURCES

Federal Railroad Administration Cooperative Agreement with California High-Speed Rail Authority – California High-Speed Train Program ARRA Grant – Amendment No. 6 – May 16, 2016

High-Speed Rail Gets a Four-Year Delay: The California Bullet Train Megaproject Was Even Less Shovel-Ready Than AdvertisedPolitico – May 18, 2016

California High-Speed Rail Authority 2016 Business Plan

High-Speed Rail and Federal Partners Realign Grant to Reflect Updated Business Plan – California High-Speed Rail Authority Press Release – May 18, 2016

California Legislators Concerned About California High-Speed Rail Accountability

During the past four weeks, the California State Legislature has discussed the 2016 Draft Business Plan for California High-Speed Rail in several hearings. While some legislators continue to effusively praise the project, many legislators – both Republicans and Democrats – have expressed grave concerns about the abrupt change in the direction of the project and the outlook for funding sources.

On March 28, 2016, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report entitled Review of High-Speed Rail Draft 2016 Business Plan. This report stirred the Assembly Transportation Committee enough to pass Assembly Bill 2847 on a 15-0 vote on April 18.

Introduced by Assemblymember Jim Patterson (a critic of the project), AB 2847 requires the California High-Speed Rail Authority to do two things in future business plans: (1) include projected financing costs for a proposed segment or combination of segments, and (2) identify any significant changes in scope for segments identified in the previous business plan or project update report, and provide an explanation of adjustments in cost and schedule attributable to those changes.

Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA) continues to be active in calling for public accountability for this beleaguered project. CCHSRA Co-Chair Frank Oliviera spoke during public comment at the April 6, 2016 hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee #3 – Resources and Transportation – on California High-Speed Rail funding. (Watch the video clip of Frank Oliviera testimony.) A letter from CCHSRA was cited in a March 28, 2016 Associated Press article, State Lawmakers Poised to Scrutinize California High-Speed Rail Plan:

In a letter to the committee, Citizens for High-Speed Rail Accountability urged lawmakers to reconsider all funding for bullet trains. “There is not enough money available to put a functional financially sound high-speed train on what they are building,” the group wrote.

Nevertheless, the project moves on, with an Assembly budget hearing scheduled for April 20 to discuss the $500 million annual budget appropriation of cap-and-trade tax revenue to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

AGENDAS AND VIDEOS OF LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS

On March 28, the California State Assembly held an oversight hearing to review the Draft 2016 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

http://olive.calchannel.com/videos/assembly-oversight-hearing-on-the-review-of-the-draft-2016-business-plan-for-the-california-high-speed-rail-authority/

On April 4, the California State Senate held an oversight hearing on California High-Speed Rail: An Overview of the 2016 Draft Business Plan.

Agenda: https://docs.google.com/gview?url=http%3A%2F%2Fstran.senate.ca.gov%2Fsites%2Fstran.senate.ca.gov%2Ffiles%2Fagenda_4-4-2016.pdf&embedded=true

Complete Video: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3525

Individual Speakers (video compiled by derailhsr)

State Senator Lois Wolk: https://youtu.be/xTK8-13P7iY

State Senator Richard Roth: https://youtu.be/rYq34TFI75Y

State Senator Jim Nielsen: https://youtu.be/ebxdrSkUWbo

State Senator Cathleen Galgiani: https://youtu.be/N89xw1YaLNk

State Senator Ted Gaines: https://youtu.be/kuB2ECon1hc

State Senator Ben Allen: https://youtu.be/Iy9BaL-ubAk

State Senator Bob Huff:  https://youtu.be/iCnPn36NSu8

Lou Thompson, California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group: https://youtu.be/7gZvvW4Jmvc

Jessica Peters, California Legislative Analyst’s Office: https://youtu.be/FXI3GHg3OLM

Dan Richard, Board Chairman, California High-Speed Rail Authority: https://youtu.be/yBnVW-0jHuw

On April 6, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 Resources and Transportation held a hearing on California High-Speed Rail.

Agenda: http://abgt.assembly.ca.gov/sites/abgt.assembly.ca.gov/files/Sub%203.%20Exide%20Cleanup%20and%20High%20Speed%20Rail.%20Revised%20-%20final.pdf

Complete Video: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=3543 starting at 13:03

Individual Speakers (video compiled by derailhsr):

Jessica Peters, California Legislative Analyst’s Office: https://youtu.be/PhuWAclk0zI

Assemblyman Jim Patterson: https://youtu.be/iBziL_H0xOc

Dave DePinto, Save Angeles Forest for Everyone: https://youtu.be/3Xuz0BvdLes

Frank Oliveira, Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability (CCHSRA): https://youtu.be/J9DeiYsyxYE

Mike Brady, Community Coalition on High Speed Rail (CC-HSR): https://youtu.be/QiHX1IGyXZY

David Schonbrunn, Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) and Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF): https://youtu.be/-jYy0F2cevM

William Grindley, high-speed rail analyst and critic: https://youtu.be/t9KEffvGG34

Cindy Bloom of Save Angeles Forest for Everyone: https://youtu.be/OyB6UUaf6bY

Rebutting Claims About California High-Speed Rail as a Highway and Airport Alternative

Below is a summary (abstract) of a report submitted to the California High-Speed Rail Authority board by Mark R. Powell of Against California High Speed Rail at the board’s November 9, 2015 meeting.


Pushing Back on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Myths About High-Speed Rail

24,300 Miles of Highway Lanes as an Alternative to High-Speed Rail
by Mark R. Powell
October 30, 2015

The Authority’s most recent hyping of the need for high-speed rail, a June 2015 brochure entitled California High-Speed Rail Big Picture (2015), makes the claim that Phase 1 Blended, connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, provides a transportation capacity equivalent to 4,300 new highway lane miles, 115 additional airport gates, and four new airport runways costing $158 billion. A second claim is that high-speed rail provides this capacity at half the cost.

This paper dissects these deceptive claims where the Authority uses “capacity” instead of “ridership” knowing full well that the theoretical capacity of Phase 1 Blended will dwarf its ridership and that the itemized highway lane miles will not be necessary this century, if ever, whether Phase 1 Blended is built or not built.

The paper then traces the evolution over two decades of the asserted highway benefits of high-speed rail, from the thousands of miles of highway lanes reported in the Authority’s 2005 California High-Speed Train Final Program EIR/EISback to earlier minimal assertions made in its first business plan and those made by its predecessor, the Intercity High-Speed Rail Commission.

Lastly, this paper looks at California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) traffic data and Caltrans long range planning documents. The data and planning documents prove how the Authority grossly overestimated future highway infrastructure needs for the year 2016 in its 2005 California High-Speed Train Final Program EIR/EIS and attempts to give readers information sufficient to see for themselves high-speed rail’s true impact on future highway needs over the next 20 years.

Read the full report at the California High-Speed Rail Authority website at Pushing Back on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Myths About High-Speed Rail or at the Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability website at Pushing Back on the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Myths About High-Speed Rail.

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