CALIFORNIA HIGH-SPEED RAIL RELEASES NEW BUSINESS PLAN
Voter-Approved System Will Create 100,000 Jobs in Next 5 Years, More Than 1 Million Jobs Over Life of Project
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 1, 2011||CONTACT: Rachel Wall, 916-384-9026|
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority today released a new business plan that lays the foundation for an economically viable high speed rail system that will create 100,000 jobs in the next five years, and is expected to generate another 1 million jobs moving forward. California’s high speed rail system, the first in the nation, is also expected to reduce carbon emissions by 3 million tons annually.
The new business plan describes a phased approach to construction that will allow the Authority to adapt to changing financial conditions as it moves forward, segment by segment. The plan also updates cost estimates, ridership figures and funding expectations to reflect current economic realities. The result is a fiscally sound project that will attract and drive private investment, generate strong revenues and operate without any public subsidies, just as other high speed rail networks do throughout the world.
“We have carefully constructed a business plan that is mindful of the economic and budgetary constraints facing both the state and the nation,” said Authority Board Chairman Thomas J. Umberg. “It will deliver to California and Californians a cost-effective, efficient, and sensible alternative to more highways and increased airport congestion.”
As the state’s population grows from 38 million people today to 60 million people by mid-century, it is estimated that without high speed rail California will need as much as $171 billion to meet its transportation needs. That means an additional 2,300 lane-miles of highways, 4 runways, and 115 airline gates will need to be built.
California’s high speed rail system will also be better for the environment than auto and air travel. The system is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 3 million tons annually and save Californians 146 million hours in travel time each year.
Construction will begin next year with a 130-mile segment stretching from just north of Bakersfield to just south of Merced. The funding for this piece, which will serve as the “backbone” of the system, has already been identified through federal funds and the voter-approved Proposition 1A. This initial Central Valley section is expected to create 100,000 jobs in the next five years.
Board members, including new gubernatorial appointees Dan Richard and Mike Rossi, brought a seasoned business perspective to developing the plan, which outlines the future of the largest infrastructure project underway in the United States.
“Our role was to incorporate a business perspective into the plan to prove that it is financially viable,” Richard said. “What we present today is the culmination of a lot of sweat and hard work to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best bang for the buck.”
“After conducting an in-depth analysis I am convinced that this is an open and balanced business plan,” said Rossi. “This is a current, realistic and transparent plan and identifies the funds and financing necessary to implement high-speed rail in California.”
Authority Board Member Jim Hartnett praised the plan as “a new direction, reflecting community input, focusing on the concerns of local and regional rail systems as a partner in a blended approach.”
“Taking advantage of existing infrastructure will be cost-effective and reflect the coordination needed to implement this critically important infrastructure project,” Hartnett said.
Each segment of the construction project will have its own value and independent utility, and depending upon the availability of funding, each segment will complement the previous one while augmenting existing local and regional rail networks in a cooperative and coordinated fashion. Regional rail systems in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been receptive to the idea of blending existing services with the new system.
Additionally, no public operating subsidy will be necessary for the rail system. Like successful systems around the world, California’s high speed rail system will initially be built with public sector funds and when the system is operational ridership will drive revenues that, in turn, will attract further private-sector investment.
To protect the taxpayers’ investment, the economic assumptions including inflation, cost of materials and ridership projections, included in this plan are realistic and conservative. The ridership projections have been rigorously tested by a peer-review panel of international experts.
High-speed rail officials were accompanied in releasing the new Business Plan by transportations stakeholders, including ACE Executive Director Stacey Mortensen and Mike Scanlon, who leads the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and manages Caltrain, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.
The new business plan is available online on the High-Speed Rail Authority’s website. The public will have 60 days to comment and help shape the final plan, which will be completed and provided to the Legislature in January 2012.