Testimony to the California State Senate Transportation Committee — My Name is Paul Dyson and I am the President of RailPAC, the Rail Passenger Association of California. I am a resident of Burbank and a member of that City’s Transportation Commission.
Our RailPAC organization has always favored an incremental approach to rail passenger improvements. We have successfully campaigned for 25 years for service in the Capitol, Surfliner and San Joaquin corridors and the Caltrain service. With each step improvement of frequency, reliability and transit time, ridership has grown and the services come closer to supporting themselves from the fare box.
However, the agencies in this state have gone almost as far as they can with existing rights of way and we must make some larger investments to take our services to the next level, so that we can make a real impact on traffic congestion and fuel consumption. While our organization, and many other groups in the state, supports the California High Speed Rail Project, we know that this will take time to implement and cost a lot of money, money for which there is a lot of competition in this room.
Which brings me back to the incremental approach. We’d like this committee to consider investing in three projects that are vital first phases of High Speed Rail but are also valuable stand alone regional projects. These are:
- Electrification and upgrading of the Caltrain service from San Jose to San Francisco.
- Increasing capacity at Los Angeles Union Station by completing the run through tracks project. This is vital to Metrolink and Surfliner as well as High Speed Rail.
- Acquiring and building a more direct and faster right of way between Los Angeles and Lancaster, which will provide Express Regional Rail service in that corridor AND be Phase One of the Los Angeles to San Francisco High Speed Line.
These projects are in addition to the proposed investments in improvements in the San Joaquin, Capital Corridor and other services.
These incremental improvements are both affordable and vital to their respective regions, and at the same time are foundation stones for an eventual state wide system of High Speed Trains.
Let’s build High Speed Rail, but let’s do it in affordable stages.