Paper Approves HSR Plan; Columnist Has Doubts

The editorial board of The Sacramento Bee was pleased with the new business plan of the HSR Authority, especially its new focus on improving commuter rail, while its premier columnist, Dan Walters, continues to see the project as unnecessary.

The High Speed Rail Authority released their long-awaited new business plan on Nov. 1 to a skeptical crowd at the Sacramento Rail Museum. But the increased costs, revised time-line, and new focus on improving commuter rail on shared tracks won the praise of many, including skeptics, who continue to have doubts.

"The latest business plan from the California High-Speed Rail Authority will not change the minds of long-time critics – there's still too much unknown about this major infrastructure project that will take decades to complete. But it should provide comfort to those who do believe that rail should be a part of California's 21st-century transportation network.

The new plan is much more explicit about tying the system together with existing commuter and intercity rail systems, promising "connections at all new high-speed rail stations to existing regional and local transit systems." In particular, the new plan calls for getting spending under way quickly using $950 million set aside by voters in Proposition 1A for regional and local rail improvements."

From Dan Walters: High-speed California choo-choo slows down: "Whether a 200-mph bullet train is a rational approach to California's transportation issues is still problematic, since local rush- hour congestion is the biggest problem. But at least the newly revised plan scales back the pie-in-the-sky ridership figures that the CHSRA was peddling, but no one was buying."

From Sacramento Bee: California's high-speed rail backers take steps to quiet critics: The revised figures drew praise from a key legislator.

"Sen. Alan Lowenthal, the Long Beach Democrat who chairs the Senate select committee on high-speed rail, said the regional approach is a "major step forward" for the agency."

"I think up until now we've been on kind of a collision course, the Legislature and the High-Speed Rail Authority, because I don't think the High-Speed Rail Authority felt any reason to have to respond to any of our issues unless they were forced to do it," Lowenthal said. "At least now I think there's an attitude of trying to work with us. We will see what that translates into, but I think it's a great first step."

Thanks to One Bay Area

Full Story: Editorial: Realistic plan for high-speed rail requires patience

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