CA HSR Plan Approved. Next Stop: The Legislature
The Mercury's Mike Rosenberg writes that the April 12, San Francisco meeting "carried little drama" because, as expected, the High Speed Rail Authority unanimously approved the revised $68 billion plan. The drama now switches to the legislature as they determine whether to authorize $2.3 billion of the $9.9 billion bond measure that voters supported in 2008.
"Compared with what voters approved in 2008, the new outline doubles the price tag to at least $68 billion, delays the start of service nearly a decade to 2029, slashes expected rider counts, increases fares, shortens the route and reduces train service."
However, it was clear that the prior $99 billion business plan that only connected Bakersfield to Fresno (137 miles) in the Central Valley would not pass the legislature.
"Also on Thursday, the board unanimously approved a deal to split with the Bay Area the $1.5 billion cost to electrify the Caltrain line after local agencies endorsed the partnership weeks ago. If the Legislature signs on, construction would begin soon, with electric Caltrains barreling between San Francisco and San Jose by the end of the decade and state bullet trains joining the line some 10 years later."
They also approved a previously supported (on March 1) Memorandum of Understanding with Southern California transportation agencies and MPOs to improve the Metrolink corridor which will be shared with High Speed Rail, similar to Caltrain in the Bay Area, though the $1 billion will not be used for electrification.