RailPAC Response to Governor Newsom – February 13, 2019
The Future of Modern, Efficient, Intercity Passenger Rail in California
RailPAC supports Governor Newsom’s action in changing the leadership of the High -Speed Rail Authority. After a decade it is clearly time for a change. Reprioritizing the high-speed rail project toward the completion of an operable segment (Merced to Bakersfield) with direct connections to Northern California’s other rail services, is a positive development bringing clear achievable goals to the project. This focus should advance the timeline for public operations and in doing so will bring improved rail service and transportation capacity to California travelers, especially those residing in the San Joaquin Valley.
However, we are concerned that his comments seem to indicate that he would be satisfied with a segment within the San Joaquin Valley that would not connect to any of the four largest cities in the State. Such a route would have little prospect of covering its operating costs. We believe that the minimum system that would deliver significant transportation benefits would be San Francisco to Bakersfield.
RailPAC also strongly supports, as part of the refocus, a process to initiate the connection between the San Joaquin Valley and Silicon Valley. The San Joaquin Valley needs the link to jobs and major international airports, and the Peninsula needs access to the workforce and the housing in the San Joaquin Valley. The Governor should put pressure on Silicon Valley business to help finance the link, as well as the federal government. While we agree with the Governor that it will take time; that is all the more reason to start as soon as possible. This is especially true given California’s growing economy and projected 25% population increase in the next 30 years.
RailPAC has always championed the careful stewardship of public transportation funds. As such RailPAC applauds the Governor’s initiatives to dramatically improve the project’s oversight, transparency and governance. One issue that needs to be addressed, and one that affects housing projects as well, is the barrage of lawsuits that delay and drive costs for vital infrastructure initiatives.
Meanwhile in the south, work should continue modernizing Los Angeles Union Station for both regional and intercity rail, and the elimination of bottlenecks on the main regional routes. RailPAC believes in the creation of robust regional passenger rail networks in both northern and southern California, to linked by a new, efficient, high speed route in incremental stages.
The Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada is a 501c3 volunteer group that, since 1978, educates the public about the benefits of passenger rail transportation.
Paul Dyson, President 818 371 9516