The Authority has confidence that the cost of delivering the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles/Anaheim system, in accordance with Proposition 1A performance standards, is reduced by almost $30 billion, now estimated at $68.4 billion. Under the phased approach, and consistent with Proposition 1A, construction of any segment would only proceed when funding is identified and the Legislature has approved the use of additional state funding.
The prior estimate was $98.5 billion. The cost estimate when it was voted in Proposition 1A was $43 billion.
It is a phased strategy with three key elements:
• “Blending” high speed with existing rail systems to accelerate and broaden benefits, improve efficiency, minimize community impacts, and reduce construction costs while enhancing rail service for travelers throughout the state
• Making early investments in the “bookends,” or San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin regions, to upgrade existing services, build ridership, and lay the foundation for expansion of the high-speed system
• Delivering early benefits to Californians by using and leveraging investments as they are made
New Northern California Unified Service
The first construction segment of the IOS will be put into use immediately upon completion for improved service on the San Joaquin intercity line. This service, the fifth busiest Amtrak line in the nation, already serves more than 1 million riders a year and will link with other systems, such as ACE and Caltrain, to create a new, improved network reaching from Bakersfield to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Immediately, California’s rail network will be able to carry passengers faster and more reliably than ever before.
Begin building the Initial Operating Section
The IOS of the California high-speed rail system will connect the Central Valley near Merced to the San Fernando Valley gateway to Los Angeles. This facility will be transformational in creating a passenger rail nexus between one of the fastest growing regions in the state with the state’s largest population center. Among its many benefits will be the realization of the state’s highest intercity passenger rail priority—closing the state’s single largest gap in intercity rail service—linking north and south at Bakersfield to Palmdale. Immediate steps toward this goal include the prioritization of environmental clearance and other preliminary work necessary for this gap closure.
Improve service in the “bookends”
This will be achieved by putting the $950 million in Proposition 1A funding for connectivity to work. The Authority will work with the California Transportation Commission, Caltrans, and regional rail systems to gain approval this fiscal year for funds that can be used to make near-term improvements that will tie to eventual HSR service. Millions of travelers throughout the state will benefit from faster, more frequent, and more reliable services associated with the expansion of key transit investments throughout the state.
Additionally, the Authority is working with regional transportation agencies through memoranda of understanding and other mechanism to identify and implement additional improvements beyond the $950 million in connectivity funds that can provide near-term benefits to commuters on Metrolink and Caltrain and pave the way for the future HSR system.
Electrify the Caltrain corridor
Electrifying Caltrain will result in a faster, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly rail system that will eventually allow for a one-seat ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Electric trains can stop and start faster than diesel trains, which will reduce the time it takes to travel between San Francisco and San Jose. As Caltrain has already demonstrated, decreased travel time results in increased ridership. As more people ride Caltrain, congestion on freeways and surface streets in the San Francisco Bay Area will be reduced. In addition, the switch to electric power will lower air
pollutant emissions from trains by up to 90 percent while significantly reducing power consumption. Electric-powered trains also are significantly quieter, which will benefit those living and working near the rail corridor.
This Revised Plan includes a planning scenario for use in projecting performance of the system. In order to generate key performance data, this planning scenario includes several basic assumptions regarding the Bay-to-Basin and Phase 1 Blended operating sections:
• The system will be completed by 2028.
• The average ticket fare between San Francisco and Los Angeles will be $81 (83 percent of anticipated airline ticket prices) in 2010 dollars, with up to nine trains per hour during the peak period.
For this Revised Plan, a planning schedule was adopted that extended the date for completion of Phase 1 Blended from 2020 to 2028 to mitigate funding and other risks. Based on this schedule, costs have been inflated to assess the total costs in the year-of-expenditure.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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