In Total, $75 Billion Approved for Mass Transit

Last week, a majority of transportation initiatives were approved by voters. This is good news for transit advocates, but risks still loom.
November 13, 2008, 8am PST | Judy Chang
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"To be sure, last week's votes won't guarantee a prolonged boom for rail and transit systems -- or for companies supplying the equipment. Gas prices could stabilize at lower levels, diminishing growth prospects for bus and rail service. The impact of the economic slowdown on budgets may constrain funding for transportation. And big undertakings like California's prospective high-speed rail system will depend on equal participation from the federal government and private sector.

'The clear risk is...can California go out and raise $10 billion to do this at a cost that makes sense?" said Art Hatfield, an analyst at Morgan Keegan in Memphis, Tenn. "Is the appetite there to invest in these projects from private money?'

Mr. Hatfield noted that companies such as Bombardier and Siemens need to show they can step up production as they bid on projects. 'That is a huge risk these companies run,' he said. 'They build up expectations on infrastructure spending, and then either these things move forward or don't move forward.'"

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Published on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 in The Wall Street Journal
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