At the Rail~Volution Conference held in San Francisco on Oct 12 2016, Authority Chair Dan Richard delivered a talk and made some remarks.

Chair Richard clearly stated the Authority’s real mission is not High Speed Rail, but Rail Modernization.

Quoting from a transcript of his remarks we read:

“Well thanks.. One of my biggest frustrations is that we actually talk about the High Speed Rail project in California, when in fact, I’ve tried un-successfully to get the press and others to understand that that is not what we are doing.

What we are doing is a California Rail Modernization program. Maybe it is because I came from a local transit district, but, I think, one of the things I’m proud of is, probably the biggest transformation of the program when Gov Brown came in, and his leadership team came in, was that we started looking at High Speed Rail, as simply, simply the spinal part of a State Wide rail transportation system.”

The Authority and its charter were established in 1996 with the passage of SB-1420, the author being Judge Quentin Kopp, (then a State Senator).

Reading the charter of the Authority, I found nothing stating Rail Modernization was a mission of the Authority.

I wrote Judge Quentin Kopp asking him about the Authority’s current mission being Rail Modernization.  He replied with the following:


Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2016 16:54:38 -0700

Mr. Brown,

Thanks for your email.

Rail modernization was not the purpose of my legislation establishing the California High-Speed Rail Authority or Proposition 1A in November, 2008. Richard is violating the law. 

Quentin L. Kopp


Chair Richard’s main talk at the conference was also recorded.

Here he talks about having the Authority lead efforts to impose State Wide Land Use restrictions.  He mentions the Authority has established a Transit Land Use Committee, whose aim is to pursue this goal.

There is nothing in the Authority’s charter that empowers the Authority to pursue creating State Wide Land Use mandates.

The Authority is expected to conform to the law, and the objectives of Rail Modernization and State Wide Land Use are clearly outside the charter of the Authority as established in 1996 by SB-1420, which as noted, was authored by then Senator, Quentin Kopp.

Chair Richard’s attempt to make Rail Modernization the Authority’s real mission, is clearly associated with the Authority’s effort ( see AB-1889, Mullin) to illegally amend the voter approved Proposition 1A, which has been exposed previously.

It seems obvious the new mission of the Authority being Rail Modernization is fully driven by the realization the California High Speed Rail project is really a dead issue. There is just no adequate funding for the project!

The last effort by the Authority to fund just an operating segment from north of Bakersfield to San Jose has failed.  The plan was to obtain funding from an allocation of Cap and Trade funds and Prop 1A funds to fund the $20 billion segment.

Cap and Trade revenues have almost completely evaporated as shown by the last two auctions. More federal funding is nowhere to be found.  The private sector has told the Authority, they will not invest without a subsidy guarantee, which is completely illegal under Prop 1A.

So now the Authority pivots to Rail Modernization as its goal, and the Authority wants to spend Prop 1A funds on Regional projects such as Caltrain Modernization and funding grade separation projects in Southern California.

Spending the $9 billion of possible funding in Prop 1A, which is solely earmarked for HSR construction, is a prize which the Authority, and many legislators, are unwilling to abandon.

It is “All about the Money”.  The Authority seems more than willing to violate the law to spend those funds.