The California High Speed Rail Authority has released its 2018 Business Plan.  It portends to finally reveal the true cost for construction of Phase I of the project.  The new cost estimate is at a base of $77.3 billion to a possible $98.1 billion dollars.  Completion of Phase I is now projected for year 2032. Please remember the old promise to the voters was the project would be running by 2020 and the cost to California voters would be $10 billion (the rest of the $32 billions needed to build Phase I would come from Federal and private sources).

Looking a bit beneath the headlines, we find many questions that are not explained.  Phase I as defined in the 2008 Prop 1A ballot measure, runs from the Trans Bay Terminal (TBT) in San Francisco to LA Union Station and Anaheim.   This new business plan suddenly truncates the route to start at the 4th and King Street station in San Francisco, not at the TBT.  Estimated costs for the needed tunnel from 4th and King to TBT are at $3.9 billion.  This cost should have been included in the business plan but was omitted.

Furthermore, $400 million in Federal Funds for the needed “train box” to service the HSR trains at the TBT has already been spent, and is not included in Phase I projected costs.

Adding in these costs drives up projected cost estimates for Phase I to a range of $81.6 to $102.4 Billions.

Looking further, we now find, due to  the lack of funding for a complete Phase I, the new plan essentially is building commuter lines in the Central Valley (Madera to Bakersfield) and Gilroy to San Francisco (using existing Caltrain tracks on the Peninsula).

The citizens of Southern California are being short-changed, and will have to be satisfied with funding of a couple hundred million dollars, to upgrade a rail intersection, and maybe an upgrade of LA Union station.

The published example train schedule shows no mention of a trip from San Francisco to LA in 2 hours 40 minutes; a trip time mandated in Prop 1A.  No indeed.  We are now on notice that such a trip would be 3 hr 30 minutes at best and many travel times on some runs are up to 5 hours in length.

The new plan delays construction of the needed tunnel to connect the Central Valley to the Bay Area and needed tunnels to connect Bakersfield going south to Los Angeles. These tunnels must wait for funding which is nowhere to be found.

The dream of the Authority and Governor Brown to construct a High Speed Rail line in California is indeed dead.  What is now to be built are disconnected tracks claimed to improve commuter / passenger routes, mostly in the Central Valley and Silicon Valley.  And by the way, a guarantee of Prop 1A, was no operating subsidies would ever be required to run the train. What commuter service do you know, that doesn’t require a subsidy?

The new business plan is not a plan for a State wide High Speed Rail project.  No one should be deceived by the colorful pictures and non-existent funding which is so artfully displayed in the plan.

Now is the time to stop this project!