Project promises high-speed transit
Railway addresses transportation needs
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 18:10
Those voting in California during Tuesday's election will have the chance to approve the construction of a railway linking the Bay Area to Southern California.
In an attempt to further connect numerous regions and reduce greenhouse emissions, Proposition 1A promises a high-speed train system connecting major cities across the state, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
The cost to build the project is an estimated $9.95 billion with 30 years of interest adding another $9.5 billion, creating average payments of $647 million each year.
Designed to travel speeds of up to 220 mph, the train is said to be able to cut down pollution emitted from motor vehicles drastically.
"It costs about one-half of the price of building new highways (and) reduces greenhouse emissions. Rail is such an efficient form of transportation," Stewart Cohen, executive director for the Transportation and Land Use Coalition, said.
According to smartvoter.org, if Prop. 1A passes, the first installment of the train will link the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to the Los Angeles Union Station with major stops in between. Further expansion includes a railway from Oakland to San Jose and the Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside and on to San Diego.
The cost of operation with ongoing maintenance is estimated to be nearly one billion dollars each year, according to the California Voter Information Guide. These costs are expected to be partially, if not completely, covered by revenue from passenger fares, Cohen said.
Some find the plan to be lacking general information as to how much each fare will cost and how the state will manage to not charge taxpayers for such a project.
"They are asking us to vote and just give them money and trust them," said Adriane Moore, vice president of research for the Reason Foundation. "The whole plan is a mess."
Some also think the proposition would interfere with current debts and projects.
"(California has) an existing system that's in desperate need," Moore said. "If we were in good times (and) if we had a good transportation system, you would have an argument (for the train).
"(Prop. 1A is) one of many boondoggles of California. It's not a good idea to fund these projects with this state running up massive deficits," said Bill George, communications director for state senator Tom McClintock.
The success of the train is put in question by taxpayers and those who oppose the proposition, Eric Eisenhammer, legal assistant for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said.
"They're estimating for more riders per mile then other high speed rails in existence," Eisenhammer said. "If the riders don't materialize, the taxpayers will be on the hook (for the losses)."
Contact Sam Attal at firstname.lastname@example.org.